The Singapore authorities should immediately halt the execution of Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national convicted of murder, Amnesty International said today.
The organization calls on the president of Singapore to grant clemency immediately. Kho Jabing was granted a temporary stay on May 19, 2016, mere hours before he was scheduled to be executed the following morning.
“Any execution would mark a regressive step at a time when Singapore has made significant strides in terms of reducing the implementation of the death penalty,” said Josef Benedict, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s South East Asia and Pacific Regional Office.
“By granting clemency, President Tony Tan would build on these gains and move Singapore closer to the global trend towards abolition of this cruel practice.”
Kho Jabing’s next hearing will take place at 9:00 a.m. on May 20, 2016, when his lawyers will be presenting arguments for a constitutional challenge to elements of the mandatory death penalty.
Kho Jabing’s fate has been precarious for the past six years as his lawyers have mounted a series of appeals challenging his death sentence. This is the second time he has faced the prospect of an imminent execution.
On November 5, 2015, he was granted a stay but then had the death penalty re-imposed on April 5, 2016 after losing his last appeal.
At different stages of his appeals, he has been variously sentenced to death, resentenced to life imprisonment and caning, and sentenced to death once more.
“Kho Jabing and his family have already endured the constant distress of an impending execution for far too long,” said Josef Benedict. “It is clear that the facts of the case have been subject to differing interpretations. It is worrying that he was sentenced to death on the basis of this lack of clarity.”
Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national, lost his latest appeal on Thursday and was scheduled to be executed at 6:00 a.m. on May 20, 2016.
He was convicted of murder and sentenced to the death penalty on July 30, 2010.
Following legislative reforms, on August 14, 2013, the High Court ruled at a resentencing hearing that the murder Kho Jabing was convicted of was not intentional, and resentenced him to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane instead.
On January 14, 2015, the Court of Appeal re-imposed the death penalty, in a three-to-two split decision. On November 5, 2015, Kho Jabing’s death penalty was stayed, but re-imposed on April 5, 2016 after an appeal was dismissed and scheduled once again.
A majority of the world’s countries have now rid themselves of this cruel punishment. Singapore has encouragingly reduced the implementation of the death penalty in recent years. At least 13 cases have been reviewed and ultimately commuted following recent reforms.
Following the official moratorium on executions established in Singapore from 2012 to 2013, at least 13 people have had their death sentences reviewed and eventually commuted and new sentencing discretion has resulted in several individuals being spared the gallows.
The majority of the world’s countries have now repealed the death penalty from their national legislation and 140 in total are abolitionist in law or practice. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and a violation of the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Amnesty International supports calls included in five resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly since 2007 for the establishment of a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty.
The organization urges the authorities of Singapore to immediately halt all executions and commute all death sentences, starting with Kho Jabing, as first steps towards the full abolition of the death penalty.