22 Nov 2005

Europe MPs urge Singapore to spare Australian's life

SINGAPORE - European parliamentarians criticized Singapore's mandatory death penalty on Tuesday and urged the government to stop next week's scheduled execution of a 25-year-old Australian drug smuggler.

Nguyen Tuong Van, convicted by Singapore of trying to smuggle 400 grams (0.9 lb) of heroin from Cambodia, is to be hanged on December 2 despite repeated pleas from Australia to reconsider clemency for the former salesman.

"The death penalty is firmly rejected in the European Parliament, but it is applied here. Clearly, we have different positions," Hartmut Nassauer, chairman of the delegation for relations with Southeast Asia, told reporters at a briefing in Singapore.

"We believe in universal democracy, rights and human law."

Singapore, which has the highest execution rate in the world relative to population according to a 2004 report by Amnesty International, has a compulsory death penalty for murder and drug trafficking.

Nguyen's mother and twin brother arrived at Singapore's Changi airport late on Monday and were quickly whisked away by officials from the Australian embassy.

Frithjof Schmidt, a member of the European Green Party, urged Canberra to take the case to an international court, a day after lawyers for Nguyen asked the Australian government to have the United Nations International Court of Justice hear the case.

"There should be a debate in an international court, given the gravity of the punishment for someone just transporting drugs," Schmidt told Reuters.

Schmidt urged the Singapore government to grant Nguyen clemency.

"I would like to appeal to the government not to execute him and to go back to a trial that is in line with international standards," he said. The delegates met Nguyen's Singapore-based lawyer during their visit, he said.

Last week, a senior United Nations official, Philip Alston, criticized Singapore's decision to execute Nguyen, saying that it was violating international norms on use of the death penalty.

But Singapore said Alston was trying to "mislead the public" and maintained that there is no international consensus that capital punishment should be abolished.

The city-state added that it had the sovereign right to impose the death penalty as part of its criminal justice system.

Australia, which opposes capital punishment, says that Nguyen was carrying the drugs to help his brother pay off debts to loan sharks. It asked for clemency on the grounds that he had cooperated with authorities and could be a witness in future drug cases.


Anonymous said...

Singapore must not sway from hanging Nguyen. Singapore has never yielded under pressure and been swayed by human rights. Human rights, compassion, fairness and justice means little to Singapore. What is important is for Singapore to hang this guy so that there is FEAR, people will know not to fool around with Singapore.

We must all understand that heroin destroys family so Nguyen must be hanged.

Yes, the 2 casinos the PAP govt plans to build will destroy more lives than drugs, but that is a different matter.

Anonymous said...

What is a Country's Law when the Government never enforce them? I believe that the Australian and European Government will uphold their law even if the offender is a foreigner and even if the government of the offender's country ask for pardon. the concept is the same. LAW IS LAW and LAW must be Enforced.

Chris said...

Even if the law is a stupid one? What's the point then?

Anonymous said...

If you know the law is stupid and tough. Why in the 1st place challenge it?

The walls are thick and high. One can choose to live with it, to go around it or to ignore it. No one asked you to go ram your head into it.

Chris said...

And be like an obedient, programmed citizen?
Like status quo? Is that what you want? Is the opposite of status quo what you are afraid of? Because as PAP says, would lead to the absolute, undisputable downfall of Singapore?

silver bullet said...

anon 9.20am, hope the walls are keeping you in a damp and dark place. enjoy singapore, you deserve it....

Chris said...

Yeah. I hope that soon, the Thick and High walls, would close in and suffocate you. I'm sure you're okay with that.

Wilfred said...

This is my personal view. I support the death penalty for drug trafficking. Putting drug traffickers into life imprisonment will not deter desperados from trafficking drugs which kills people. A death penalty may make them think twice.

People have to stop being blind rhetorics for a while and face the fact that drugs like heroin are addictive and decimates people and their loved ones before taking their lives away. How many Australians would have died should that shipment of heroin reach Australia? Turning a blind eye to the deaths caused by heroin addiction is being just as callous.

chris said...

Face it. Death penalty will not deter desperados from trafficking drugs. Like you said... They're desperados. Desperados don't think twice for anything. And desperados will exist as long as there are poor people.
If death penalty has worked... Singapore wouldn't still be killing people for the offence, and 400 since...