Having endured four years on death row, on 14th November 2013, Yong Vui Kong’s death sentence was quashed and he was resentenced to life imprisonment and 15 strokes of the cane by the High Court of Singapore.
Mr Yong, a Malaysian national, was 19 at the time of his arrest. He was convicted of trafficking 47.27 grams of heroin and the mandatory death penalty was imposed.
Since 2009, the Death Penalty Project has been assisting Singapore lawyer M. Ravi in this case, bringing a series of legal challenges, including a constitutional challenge to the mandatory death penalty and a judicial review of the clemency process. This litigation played a crucial role in the introduction of legislative reforms in 2011, which abolished the mandatory death penalty for certain categories of drug trafficking and homicide offences.. The new laws provide judges with a discretion to impose a lesser sentence than the death penalty.
In September 2013, Mr Yong received a certificate of co-operation from the Public Prosecutor of Singapore, which allowed him to seek a review of his death sentence. He is the first person to be resentenced under the amended Misuse of Drugs Act. To date, five prisoners convicted of murder have been resentenced- all have had their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment with caning.
Saul Lehrfreund and Parvais Jabbar, executive directors of the Death Penalty Project, said:
“We are naturally very pleased and relieved that Mr Yong has been removed from death row and no longer faces execution. This is of fundamental importance although we are concerned that he will be subject to 15 strokes of the cane in addition to the sentence of life imprisonment which has been imposed.”