7 Nov 2005

Plea to UN to stop hanging

From the Sydney Morning Herald
November 7, 2005 - 5:27PM

A human rights lawyer is making a last-ditch appeal to the United Nations, hoping beyond hope that convicted Australian heroin trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van can be saved from the noose in Singapore.

M Ravi plans to file a complaint against the Singapore government tomorrow with Philip Alston, an Australian who is the UN's Geneva-based special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary, or arbitrary executions.

The complaint alleges that the impending execution of Nguyen, possibly just days away, would breach Singapore's constitution and would be a serious miscarriage of justice.

The city-state's government has so far rejected all pleas for clemency, and there appear to be few avenues left to stop the execution.

It's doubtful that Ravi's protest will work.

"I am not an expert in international law," he said today. "But I will endeavour (to do my) my best as a citizen of the country."

A similar complaint would be filed with the UN against Canberra on Wednesday, unless the Australian government takes its own case on behalf of Nguyen to the special rapporteur, Ravi said.

Ravi is not representing Nguyen's case.

But he has been an active opponent of capital punishment in Singapore and has represented two death-row prisoners, both of whom were executed.

Alston is tasked by the United Nations to investigate summary or extrajudicial executions.

He reports his findings each year to the UN General Assembly.

Individuals can appeal directly to him about "alleged extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, or death threats, and/or general information about questions related to the right to life," according to the rapporteur's website.

Melbourne salesman Nguyen, 25, was arrested at Changi International Airport in December 2002 as he was about to board a flight to Australia.

He had 396 grams of heroin taped to his back and in his luggage.

Singapore law mandates the death penalty for anyone caught with more than 15 grams of heroin.

Ravi expected that Nguyen's family would soon receive a letter from the Singapore authorities confirming the date set for the execution, most likely this Friday or November 18.

The lawyer will be among a number of activists who are due to gather at a vigil in Singapore overnight to protest Nguyen's execution and the use of the death penalty.

The planned meeting is a rare expression of dissent in tightly controlled Singapore, which is believed to execute more prisoners than any other country relative to its population.

Ravi said that he would be collecting letters of support for Nguyen from those attending the vigil, which he planned to deliver to Changi Prison tomorrow.


Think Singaporean said...

Since there is still some chances, hopefully the Australian govt, on their part, is trying their very best to save a "precious" human life like Nyugen, though he is just an ordinary human being or rather a "refugee". In my opinion, what is MANDATE WHEN THERE IS NO MORALITY, especially so when it is alleged that the "impending execution of Nguyen, possibly just days away, would breach Singapore's constitution and would be a serious miscarriage of justice"??? (I really could not tolerate this!!) In view of this and since two countries have a different jurisdiction, it is important and should seek a third party (like UN)'s help to quickly investigate the summary or extrajudicial executions in order to achieve a fair judgement of this particular case as well as to set as precedent for future cases. Unless and until all evidences are fair, justified and satisfied, may there be no innocent and precious human beings be executed. Anyway, I do not wish to repeat my opinion about death penalty = life imprisonment which had already been discussed in previous articles. Well, we shall continue to pray for the best.

Anonymous said...

Dear "think singaporean", I really do wonder whether you have any facility in the English language, or is it just your mixed-up thought processes, which makes your moniker ("think singaporean") all that more inapt. You might like to use the resources of the Internet to find out for yourself what "summary or extrajudicial executions" actually mean before you apply them to the Singapore context. That is a very serious charge to make...

Think Singaporean said...

well, thank you for your good English. Then why do you think it doesn't apply to sg context? Just imagine you're on a death row, wouldn't you like your family members and lawyers to try every possible opportunity to fight back your precious life? Mr Ravi, a counsel, and Mr Philip Alston, an UN's Geneva-based special rapporteur on extra-judicial, summary, or arbitrary executions - both are professionals. If they think it is a closed case, then they would not want to pursue further. You may want to read "Lawyers call for campaign to stop execution for Australian" which Mr Ravi states his viewpoint.

Anonymous said...

Dear "think singaporean", just because someone from the professions says something, does it mean you uncritically believe that person? "think singaporean", you might like to start to think for yourself. Use the resources of the Internet to check the validity of very rudimentary statements before you begin taking a stand on serious matters.

Think Singaporean said...

Well said. Do you have any doubt about these professionals and their integrity? If so, then pls enlighten them instead. May I suggest that you do some soul-searching and reflect upon death instead of thinking so hard trying to unravel others' actions and thoughts. I believe you're a human being with senses like all of us.

Anonymous said...

I think one of them already enlightened both himself and the rest of us when he himself openly said he wasn't an expert on international law. So, who unraveled whose actions?

Think Singaporean said...

Well, one isn't but the other is and both of them are trying to work out something.