Skip to main content arrow-down arrow-tail-right arrow-triangle-right calendar camera compass download email eye facebook flag mail phone pin play send square-right tag twitter youtube badge message

DPP Welcomes Singapore Plan to Restrict the Death Penalty

  • News
  • 10 Jul 2012

The Government of Singapore is to abolish the mandatory imposition of the death penalty for certain offences – following a review that was partly shaped by a pair of London human rights lawyers.

Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabbar run the Death Penalty Project (DPP), which has assisted an influential Singapore lawyer in mounting a number of important constitutional legal challenges to the death penalty.

This week’s statement from the Singapore government says that the legislation will be introduced later this year – and that until then there will be a moratorium on executions.

Up to now, the death penalty has been automatically imposed on all people convicted of murder and other offences, such as drug trafficking. Members of the judiciary have had no discretion, with the death penalty being the only available sentence, irrespective of all extenuating circumstances.

We welcome this development which will bring Singapore closer in line with many other countries that have in recent years abolished the mandatory death sentence,’ said Mr Lehrfreund and Mr Jabbar, executive directors of the DPP. They added: ‘While this is a positive move in the right direction, mandatory death sentences are prohibited by international law and, as such, the Government of Singapore will need to abolish it altogether, so judges will have the power to dispense discretion in all cases.’

In recent years, the Death Penalty Project, together with Doughty Street Chambers, has assisted Singapore lawyer M. Ravi in a number of cases, including a challenge to the mandatory imposition of the death penalty in the case of Yong Vui Kong. Mr Yong, who is now 24, was convicted of drug trafficking in the High Court of Singapore and was sentenced to death in 2008. He had admitted at trial that he was a drug courier and was convicted of trafficking 47.27 grams of diamorphine. He was 19 years old at the time he was charged and had no previous criminal record, yet the judge had no option but to impose the mandatory death sentence.

Even though the legal challenge to the mandatory death penalty did not succeed, this litigation has played a vital role in bringing the issue of the mandatory death penalty to the fore, leading to the proposed legal reforms.

The Government has now indicated it will take the necessary steps to abolish the mandatory death penalty for some categories of drug trafficking offences and homicide offences, although not for crimes of deliberate or intentional murder. All accused people – and those presently under sentence of death who meet the necessary requirements – will be re-sentenced under the new law.  Mr Yong, who faces imminent execution, will now have the opportunity (along with other death row prisoners) to seek a review of his death sentence, potentially saving his life.

 

About the Death Penalty Project

The Death Penalty Project is an independent international human rights organisation housed in the offices of Soho legal firm Simons Muirhead & Burton.

For more than 20 years, the Death Penalty Project has worked to protect the human rights of those facing the death penalty. As a result of its work, the mandatory death penalty has been abolished in ten Commonwealth Caribbean countries as well as Uganda, Kenya and Malawi, and the lives of hundreds of prisoners facing execution have been saved.

In the case of Yong Vui Kong, the Death Penalty Project instructed Edward Fitzgerald QC, John Jones and Ben Silverstone from Doughty Street Chambers, on a pro bonobasis.

For further press information, please contact: Annette So on (+44) 203 206 2748

Latest news

The Kalisher Trust Legal Internship - Applications now open
Read More
World Day Against the Death Penalty - Women and the Death Penalty
Read More
People may change mind about death penalty, but government?
Read More
Dismantle the gallows! Sierra Leone becomes the latest country to abolish the death penalty
Read More
Sentenced to death for killing her abusive ex-boyfriend as he attacked her: Aminata's story shows the importance of considering mitigating circumstances
Read More
New research revealing the attitudes of Indonesians towards the death penalty provides new data that could facilitate fresh discourse on the future of capital punishment in the country
Read More
A punishment reserved for the poor and marginalised? New study shines light on the profiles and experiences of death row inmates in Bangladesh
Read More
The Death Penalty Project at CogX Festival 2021
Read More
Guyana’s Court of Appeal will today hear a landmark case that could see the death penalty abolished
Read More
Lawyer: Popular support a flawed reason for death penalty in Japan
Read More
[JOINT STATEMENT] UN Crime Congress: abolition of the death penalty must be an integral part of crime prevention programmes and criminal justice reforms
Read More
Malaysian man has death sentence quashed as judgment in Singapore makes judicial history
Read More
British national received 24 strokes of the cane for drug offences in Singapore
Read More
New report finds Zimbabwean opinion leaders support abolition of the death penalty
Read More
Privy Council overturns murder conviction of unrepresented man who faced the death penalty in The Bahamas
Read More

Stay up-to-date with our work