January 13, 2006
A LAWYER and human rights activist said Friday, Jan 13, he planned to campaign against the execution of two convicted heroin traffickers.
M. Ravi said he would seek the help of international human rights groups on behalf of Nelson Malachy, 33, who is stateless, and Nigerian Amara Tochi Iwuchukwu, 19, both on death row for smuggling 727 grams (26 ounces) of heroin into the city-state.
Singapore has a mandatory death penalty for anyone found guilty of trafficking more than 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of heroin.
Iwuchukwu was caught at Singapore's Changi Airport in November 2004 with heroin estimated by authorities to be worth S$1.5 million (US$970,000; €795,930) after arriving from Dubai. Malachy was subsequently arrested after Iwuchukwu identified him to authorities as the person he was supposed to deliver the drugs to.
The pair, who are not represented legally by Ravi, were convicted in July and sentenced to death. Their appeals will be heard in court on Feb. 20.
"The mandatory death penalty should be opposed especially because it does not allow for the exercise of judicial discretion in sentencing," Ravi said at a lunch hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association, adding he hoped the case would create debate about capital punishment in the city-state's media.
He said he intended to work with London-based human rights group Amnesty International and the European Commission-funded Center for Capital Punishment Studies in appealing for clemency.
The lawyer has failed in three previous cases to save drug smugglers from the gallows - including convicted heroin trafficker Nguyen Tuong Van of Australia, who was executed on Dec 2.