23 Oct 2005

Amnesty lobbies to save death row Australian

Original story spotted on abc.net

Amnesty International says it will apply whatever pressure it can on the Government of Singapore to commute the death sentence handed down to an Australian drug offender.

The Singapore Cabinet this week rejected an application for clemency by Nguyen Tuong Van, in what was his final avenue of appeal.

It is expected the 25-year-old Melbourne man will now be executed within weeks.

Amnesty spokesman Tim Goodwin has condemned the decision, and is urging the Cabinet to have a change of heart.

"They're the ones who've rejected his clemency application, they're also the ones who can reopen that decision, and commute to a lesser form of punishment," he said.

"We're encouraging our people all over the world in our network and also governments and other prominent people to take this issue up with the Singapore Cabinet.

"Call on them to reconsider it and not to execute him in the coming weeks."

Amnesty International is also calling for the Federal Government to make a further attempt to convince the Singapore Government to overturn the penalty.

Prime Minister John Howard says the Australian Government has done all it can.

But Mr Goodwin has questioned that assessment.

"We'd be encouraging the Australian Government to do everything it can over the coming weeks to make those representations to the Singapore Government," he said.

"I don't think it's enough for us to say well we've done everything we can and just leave it at that.

"I think we have to keep making efforts to intercede and efforts to convince the Singapore authorities right up to the point when he's hanged."

Below is an extract from the statement released by Amnesty International in Australia.

Amnesty International is appealing to Singapore’s Cabinet to reconsider its decision and commute the death sentence against Van Tuong Nguyen.

“While an overwhelming majority of countries have rejected the death penalty, Singapore has a shocking record, hanging more than 420 people since 1991,” Tim Goodwin said. “With a population of just over four million, it has the highest execution rate in the world.”

Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act specifies a mandatory death sentence for at least 20 different offences. “This is the real impact of Singapore’s mandatory death sentences. The courts have no discretion to consider any mitigating factors, which can result in decisions which are completely disproportionate to the circumstances of the case,” Tim Goodwin said.

Under Singapore’s Constitution, there is an entitlement to the expectation in rare circumstances for clemency. Amnesty International is astonished that clemency was not granted given that Van Tuong Nguyen meets the criteria for expectation of clemency - he has always shown remorse, confessed at the earliest opportunity and cooperated fully with the authorities in addition to the sentence itself being disproportionate to the offence.

Related Link:
Singapore: Appalling decision to execute Van Tuong Nguyen

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Generally, as a Singaporean, I have never found myself against capital punishment. But in many respects this particular case is very sad. Reading the reports I cannot but be moved. I will say a prayer for the young man and his family.