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(Washington, D.C.) -- Amnesty International today urged Singapore authorities to save a young Malaysian man under threat of imminent execution for drug trafficking.
In a joint statement with the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), Amnesty International says Yong Vui Kong, who was 19 when he was first arrested for possessing 47 grams of heroin in 2007, must be granted clemency, as he has no other options left. On April 4, the Supreme Court rejected his third and final appeal, which argued that he was subjected to unequal treatment before the law.
"Countries around the world have abolished the mandatory death penalty because it does not allow courts to consider the circumstances of the defendant and the crime," said Lance Lattig, Amnesty International's Singapore researcher. "Yong Vui Kong must be spared of this cruel and degrading punishment."
Yong was sentenced to death in 2008 under Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act, which requires the death penalty for anyone caught with more than 15 grams of heroin.
In an open letter, Amnesty International and ADPAN urged the Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs and other Cabinet members to intervene and recommend clemency for Yong Vui Kong, to establish a moratorium on the death penalty and suspend all executions.
The president of Singapore can only grant a presidential pardon upon the advice of the Cabinet. Clemency for a death sentence has been granted six times since Singapore's independence in 1965.
Yong's lawyer cited the Singapore attorney general's decision not to prosecute the alleged mastermind of the drug operation, dropping 26 charges against the Singaporean who was Yong's boss.
"The boss of the drugs syndicate has had the charges against him dropped, while Yong Vui Kong, poor and only 19 at the time of his arrest, will be put to death," said Mr. M. Ravi, counsel for Yong Vui Kong and ADPOAN member. "No enlightened legal system could justify this result."
The case has sparked concern around the world. In Malaysia, Foreign Minister Anifah Aman and legislators requested the Singaporean authorities to grant clemency in 2010.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and without reservation.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
ADPAN is an independent regional network comprising lawyers, NGOs and civil society groups from 24 countries including Singapore. It campaigns for an end to the death penalty across the Asia-Pacific region.