16 Nov 2005

UN rights expert calls on Singapore not to execute convicted drug trafficker

From the UN News Centre
15 November 2005 –

A United Nations human rights expert today called on the Government of Singapore not to execute a man sentenced to death for attempting to traffic heroin, declaring that the execution violate international legal standards.

“Making such a penalty mandatory – thereby eliminating the discretion of the court – makes it impossible to take into account mitigating or extenuating circumstances and eliminates any individual determination of an appropriate sentence in a particular case,” the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions of the UN Commission on Human Rights, Philip Alston, said.

“The adoption of such a black and white approach is entirely inappropriate where the life of the accused is at stake. Once the sentence has been carried out it is irreversible,” he added.

Nguyen Tuong Van was sentenced to death for attempting to traffic just under 400 grams of pure heroin through Changi Airport in December 2002.

Mr. Alston noted that the Singaporean Government had in the past stated that the death penalty is primarily a question for the sovereign jurisdiction of each country, but he said matters relating to the functioning of the criminal justice system are legitimate matters of international concern when questions of non-compliance with international standards are involved.

He added that the Singapore Court of Appeal had failed to examine the most relevant case of all in rejecting the condemned man’s appeal, one in which the United Kingdom’s Law Lords endorsed the statement that “No international human rights tribunal anywhere in the world has ever found a mandatory death penalty regime compatible with international human rights norms.”

Noting the longstanding commitment of the Singaporean courts to the rule of law, Mr. Alston called upon the Government to take all necessary steps to avoid an execution which is inconsistent with accepted standards of international human rights law.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Are we to take it that pronouncements by UK Law Lords are the Bible truth for all and sundry to follow? The UN official's logic is as flawed as his lack of understanding that the planet has yet to enter the era of a borderless world... That kind of world will indeed happen one day, but not one person currently alive today will get to see that day. It is a day for many future generations to come from now.

soci said...

whoo, Anonymous, you sound like, uhmm George W Bush.

spawn said...

isn't it a good thing that this UN human right's expert is not representative of the whole UN.
To the UK law lord, of course capital punishment is not within the "international standards of human rights" where international refers to Europe/Australia/Canada and not the majority of the world e.g. China, US, the Middle East, East Asia, South East Asia, Central Asia, Africa, South America, Central America so on.

Is capital punishment practised in India? I don't know. It should still be though IIRC.

Anyway, I don't support the death penalty, but when another country tries to interfere with another countries judicial proceedings. That is just wrong. Singapore has always had a quite strong line in this, and this interference probably sealed Tuong Van fate. (Fay said, In Larry King Live, that Singapore wants to project the fact that it is a big country and not scared of countries like US). The Australian government has yet to explain though, why an Australian criminal has the right to a different trial proceeding than a citizen of a different country.

Anonymous said...

soci, simple truism: the international state system as it exists today is in contention with international law, and has always been. Between the two, international law more often than not comes off second best, not least because the formulation of its precepts have been enacted in the chancelleries of Western capitals. NEWSFLASH: much of the world doesn't have a Western sheen to it, much to the regret of some... But alas that's how the chips fall old chap!

jean-luc picard said...

Is the law that a country's laws take precedence over international law an international law?

-as Bertrand Russell might ask.

Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with precedence. Everything to do with enforcement. But then Bertrand-Russell et. al., wouldn't have a clue...

Anonymous said...

no human right .... hope whoever created this laws will be affected their relatives life forever until they becomes ashes... God never bless them and threw them down 1000 levels of HELL.

Anonymous said...

who created this law? obviously, the sg govt.

Think Singaporean said...

It's shame! No humanity - they do not practice what they preach! Hope they ABOLISH the death penalty; otherwise they could not command any respect from its own citizens.

Anonymous said...

Most opinion polls, even conducted by foreign organisations, show strong support from Singaporeans for capital punishment. It generally runs in excess of 70% support, with much of the rest pretty much evenly divided between those against and those without any opinion. That's why even foreign observers have not used that as an argument against capital punishment in Singapore.

soci said...

hi anon, can you name these studies so that I can have a look at them. By name I mean provide a detailed reference of these studies.

Anonymous said...

This is what the Australian journalist Jake Lloyd-Smith of The Courier-Mail said as recently as 5 November 2005: "Although criticised abroad, Singapore's tough capital punishment policy is broadly supported at home, where opinion polls periodically show hanging is backed by about 7 out of 10 Singaporeans." As mentioned, this is a key reason why foreign observers do not have a leg to stand on in claiming that a majority of Singaporeans are against capital punishment. Thus, they simply keep mum on that. Very wise, I'd say... :)

soci said...

and as a typical journalist there is no actual reference to the polls. Thanks anon, I will continue on my search...

spawn said...

soci,

I did a check and found a link to the survey done by the now defunct ThinkCenter.

the results were 83%

http://www.singapore-window.org/sw01/010608sc.htm

Anonymous said...

Now even journalists get disparaged when they deliver the kind of truth that some don't want to hear. But the same journalists would be sign-posted, with full report/article posted on this blog, when the message gets a most welcome response from the same. :)

spawn said...

aiyah the point behind the entire exercise, and the reason why Australia is not pursuing as hard as they can as compared to the Schelby case is because they realize Nguyen is guilty as sin.

The speaker of their house or parliament or whatever put it well when he said that if they were to force singapore via sanctions, what in actuality would happen would be that Australians would be the most valuable drug mules this side of the Golden Triangle. (If you understand what I mean)

soci said...

hi spawn is that this 'defunct' Think Centre?

http://www.thinkcentre.org/

spawn said...

oops sorry i mixed up roundtable and thinkcenter.

But so any other nitpickings you want to point out?

soci said...

hi spawn, sorry I don't want to appear to be nitpicking.

I thought maybe, think centre had closed down a number of years ago, unbeknown to me then started up again, like sintercom.

Anonymous said...

Look at the drug abuse rate in Singapore, compared to any other country, the results are clear. Think about it, drugs trafficking, is it for profits or for the benefits of the society? If we think about their rights to live, are they thinking of our childrens rights not to be contaminated with these bad influences? Is it the parents job again? Or is it part of the reason why parents vote of a government to help them shape their children's future. You decide.

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