UN human rights experts urge Singapore not to execute a Malaysian national

Two United Nations human rights experts on summary executions and on torture today urged the Government of Singapore not to carry out the execution of Mr. Kho Jabing, scheduled for 20 May.

The 31-year-old Malaysian national was sentenced to death in 2010 after being found guilty of unintentional murder. At the time the sentence was issued, Singaporean legislation imposed the mandatory death sentence for all murder convictions. But based on the Penal Code Amendment Act, passed in 2012, Mr. Kho Jabing was re-sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane in 2013.

However, the Court of Appeal re-imposed his death sentence on January 2015, despite of the fact that the Penal Code Amendment Act keeps the mandatory death penalty for intentional murder only, while giving the courts the possibility to impose life imprisonment and caning in cases where there was no intention to cause death.

“Mr. Kho Jabing’s actions do not meet the threshold of ‘most serious crimes’, making his execution a violation of the right to life,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions, Christof Heyns. “International law only allows the death sentence for premeditated and deliberate acts with lethal consequences, I urge the Government to immediately halt its plans to execute Mr. Kho Jabing”.

“I am also concerned that, despite recent reforms, Singaporean legislation still foresees mandatory death sentence for intentional murder. This is incompatible with international law, so the Government must pursue legal reform that will put an end to mandatory death sentences, in line with international human rights and fair trial standards,” Mr. Heyns noted.

“Reinstating the death penalty, based on the facts in this case, is appalling and amounts to mental cruelty,” added the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Juan E. Méndez.

The UN human rights experts also expressed alarm by reports that four persons were executed (three of them for drug-related crimes, which do not meet the threshold for ‘most serious crimes’) in Singapore in 2015, and appealed the Government to reinstate the official moratorium declared in 2011.