14 Apr 2006

Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Okele Nelson Malachy

Received via email from Amnesty International.

Death Penalty

13th April 2006

Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi (m) aged 19, Nigerian citizen

Okele Nelson Malachy (m) aged 33, reportedly from South

Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Okele Nelson Malachy lost their appeal against a mandatory death sentence at the Court of Appeal on 16 March. Their only hope for clemency lies with the President.

Both men were arrested at Changi Airport on 27 November 2004, accused of transporting 727.02 grams of heroin into Singapore. They were convicted under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which carries a mandatory death sentence for anyone found guilty of trafficking in more than 15 grams of heroin.

Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi was the first to be arrested following a search of his luggage. He later identified Okele Nelson Malachy, who reportedly does not have proof of current citizenship, as being involved during a subsequent police investigation.

There is usually little public debate in Singapore about the death penalty, partly as a result of tight government controls on the press and civil society organisations. In his report to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on 24 March 2006, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, remarked:

“Measures taken by the Government of Singapore suggest an attempt to suppress public debate about the death penalty in the country. For example, in April 2005, the Government denied a permit to an Amnesty International official to speak at a conference on the death penalty organized by political opposition leaders and human rights activists... If public opinion really is an important consideration for a country, then it would seem that the Government should facilitate access to the relevant information so as to make this opinion as informed as possible”.

The UN Special Rapporteur has previously called for the death penalty to be eliminated for drug-related offences and has argued that the mandatory nature of death sentence is a violation of international legal standards. However, following a national and international campaigning to appeal for clemency in the cases of Shanmugam s/o Murugesu and Van Tuong Nguyen, who were both sentenced for drug-related offences, activists in Singapore claim the debate in 2005 had been the most prominent in possibly four decades (See UA 104/05, ASA 36/001/2005, 29 April 2005 and UA 279/05, ASA 36/003/2005, 24 October 2005).

Singapore, with a population of just over four million, is believed to have the highest per capita execution rate in the world. More than 420 people have been executed since 1991, the majority for drug trafficking. The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for a mandatory death sentence for at least 20 different offences and contains a series of presumptions which shift the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defence. The Singapore government has consistently maintained that the death penalty is not a human rights issue.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation of one of the most fundamental of human rights: the right to life. It is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and there is no escaping the risk of error, which can lead to the execution of an innocent person.

RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible, in English or your own language:

- urging the Singapore Cabinet to recommend that the President grant clemency in the case of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi and Okele Nelson Malachy and commute their death sentences;

- urging the authorities to impose a moratorium on executions, with a view to complete abolition, in line with the April 2005 UN Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) resolution on the question of the death penalty;

- noting that the UNCHR has urged states which still maintain the death penalty not to impose it as a mandatory sentence, or for crimes without lethal or extremely grave consequences;

- calling on the authorities to be transparent by making full statistics related to death sentences and the background of those on death row regularly available to the public.


The President
His Excellency S R Nathan
Office of the President
Istana, Orchard Road
Singapore 0922
Fax:+65 6735 3135

Salutation: Your Excellency

Prime Minister
Lee Hsien Loong
Office of the Prime Minister
Istana Annexe, Orchard Road
Singapore 0923
Fax: +65 6732 4627

Minister of Law
Professor S. Jayakumar
Ministry of Law
100 High Street
The Treasury 08-02
Singapore 179434
Fax: +65 6332 8842

High Commissioner to Canada
His Excellency Vanu Gopala Menon
Permanent Representative of the Republic of Singapore to the United Nations
231 E. 51st Street
New York, NY 10022
Fax:+1 212 826 2964



Anonymous said...

noticed that one of the criminals is underaged (19 years old), can death penalty be imposed on a minor?

Capt_Canuck said...

according to Wikipedia "No person under the age of 18 at the time of their offence nor pregnant women can be sentenced to death" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_punishment_in_Singapore

The Singapore Criminal Procedure Code says "No sentence of death against person under 18 years.
213. Sentence of death shall not be pronounced on or recorded against a person convicted of an offence if it appears to the court that at the time when the offence was committed he was under the age of 18 years but instead of that the court shall sentence him to be detained during the President’s pleasure, and, if so sentenced, he shall be liable to be detained in such place and under such conditions as the President directs, and while so detained shall be deemed to be in legal custody."

so, looks like they will hang just about anyone that is old enough to shave...

The one that gets me is that a pregnant woman can not be hung, even after she delivers it appears, and a woman that has been proven not to be pregnant can appeal 214 (3) If the woman is found not to be pregnant, she may appeal under the Supreme Court of Judicature Act to the Court of Criminal Appeal against such finding, and that Court, if satisfied that for any reason the finding should be set aside, shall quash the sentence passed on her, and instead of it pass on her a sentence of imprisonment for life.

nice to see that when bringing a new life into Singapore that will help bring financial help and support to the country, they are willing to let the women slide a bit. Ahhh, equality...gotta love it.

Salt * Wet * Fish said...

I hope that the same crowd will protest in American with they find the 911 terrorists guilty and sentence them to death.

Anonymous said...

you compare apples to pears. The US, as several other countries maintains the death sentence but it does not have a MANDATORY DEATH SENTENCE in it´s legal code. Discretion of the court is the secret that needs to be discovered by Singapore. Even though I´m opposed to death sentence in general, it is especially a mandatory sentence that is medieval, cruel, inhumane and of course pretty stupid as it declines descrition and turns judges into black / white decision makers. You have to realize that the world is not black and white and that Singapore´s legal system misses the point.