Think Centre condemns the imminent execution of Prabagaran Srivijayan scheduled for 14th July 2017.
Prior to his arrest, Prabagaran was a 24-year-old young migrant worker who crossed the border daily from Johor (Malaysia) to work in Singapore in order to support his family. Many youths like himself, make friends easily and are vulnerable to be made use of by criminals as couriers for cigarettes or drugs. Prabagaran has maintained that he had no knowledge of the drugs in the borrowed car he was driving.
The Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has the sole prerogative over a drug courier’s life or death. It alone decides if the accused has provided “substantive assistance” in order to obtain the Certificate of Cooperation (COC) which would then allow him/her to avoid the mandatory death penalty if s/he is found guilty. Currently, our judges’ hands are tied when the accused cannot obtain a COC. The presumption of guilt in such cases, which violates the right to a fair trial in international human rights law, also means that those who maintain their innocence like Prabagaran will never fit into the criteria.
Clemency pleas addressed to the President are actually decided by the Cabinet and advised by the AGC which prosecutes the accused. There is a clear conflict of interest when the prosecutors are also the advisors to the Executive on decisions of clemency. We are concerned that clemency pleas may not be heard by the entire cabinet, and based only on the recommendations of standing/ad hoc committees whose constituents are unknown to the public.
Singapore laws, especially the death penalty, are rooted in our colonial past. Such archaic practices and attitudes should be reviewed and removed from the penal code. Since July 2011, during its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR), Singapore accepted a recommendation that called on the government to make available statistics and other factual information on the use of the death penalty (A/HRC/18/11, para. 95.15). However, many executions are carried out in secret, raising questions about the government claims about the efficacy of the death penalty in deterring crimes.
Think Centre urges the Singapore government to halt the scheduled execution of Prabagaran and all others on death row. Think Centre reiterates that the death penalty should not be imposed for drug trafficking crimes as they do not meet the international standard of “most serious crimes”. We call on the government to re-enact a moratorium on the death penalty and consider more humane, compassionate and effective policies to deal with such crimes. We also urge the government to invest in evidence-based treatment and rehabilitation of offenders and allow them to reintegrate into their family and communities.
The Think Centre a member of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty (WCADP), Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), Coalition for the Abolition of Death Penalty in ASEAN (CADPA) and Asian Forum on Human Rights & Development (Forum Asia), is for the abolishing of the death penalty for all crimes.