May 16, 2006.
By ANDnetwork .com
Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, 19, a Nigerian, is on death row in Singapore for trafficking in hard drugs.
He was arrested alongside Okele Nelson Malachy at Changi Airport on November 27, 2004 accused of transporting 727.02 grammes of heroin to the country.
Malachy’s nationality is not known.
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 grammes of heroin.
Tochi was the first to be arrested after his luggage was searched. He identified Malachy during police investigation.
Convicted by the court of first instance, both appealed, but lost the case on March 16, 2006.
Their only hope for clemency lies with the President of that country.
Singapore is notorious for its stranglehold on the press and civil society organisations as well as abuse of human rights.
There is little public debate about death penalty.
With a population of just over four million, the Asian country is believed to have the highest per capita execution rate in the world.
More than 420 persons have been executed since 1991, the majority for drug trafficking.
The Drugs Act provides for a mandatory death sentence for at least 20 different offences and contains a series of presumptions which shifts the burden of proof from the prosecution to the defence. The government is adamant that death penalty is not a human rights issue, even though organisations such as Amnesty International (AI) oppose it in all cases.
AI sees it as a violation of one of the most fundamental human rights: The right to life.
It describes it as "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".
In April 2005, Singapore denied a permit to an AI official to speak at a conference on death penalty organised by opposition leaders and human rights activists.
United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, Philip Alston, remarked in his report on March 24, 2006 that "Measures taken by the Government of Singapore suggest an attempt to suppress public debate about the death penalty in the country…."
He had previously called for death penalty to be eliminated for drug-related offences since the mandatory nature of death sentence violates international legal standards.
To save Tochi, Nigerians abroad have urged civil society groups around the world to send appeals to the Singaporean cabinet to recommend that the President grant him and Malachy clemency and commute their death sentences.
The Nigerian embassy may equally intervene.
Source : Independentng
His Excellency S R Nathan
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Salutation: Your Excellency
Lee Hsien Loong
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