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SINGAPORE – Think Centre calls for moratorium on death penalty

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FORUM-ASIA member Think Centre issued the statement below on 16 May 2010 calling for moratorium on death penalty. Please click here to sign their online petition.

We believe any humane criminal justice system could not continue to justify the retention of the death penalty based on retribution. The eradication of the supply of the drugs is important but equally important is the alleviation of the social conditions that encourage would-be traffickers or addicts. The socially excluded young and poor are the most affected and drug addictions is also increasing among the young middle-class, drug-related offenders have formed about 55% of the prison population. Are we assisting the excluded and young to reintegrate into society or are we disposing them off as rejects?

We believe that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948, and article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted on 16 December 1966 refers to the abolition of the death penalty. International documents have restricted and in some cases even banned the death penalty, calling for the abolition of death penalty.

The Singapore government has ignored the UN Special Rapporteurs recommendation of 1996.”The Special Rapporteur wishes to reiterate his call on the Government of Singapore to change its Drug Act so as to bring it into line with international standards. The Special Rapporteur considers that the Misuse of Drug Act, which partially shifts the burden of proof to the accused, does not provide sufficient guarantees for the presumption of innocence and may lead to violations of the right to life when the crime of drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence.”

“An immutable fact remains that the loss of life is irreversible and judicial error irreparable. A wide range of experts in sciences such as criminology, sociology and psychology have expressed doubts concerning the deterrent effect of capital punishment. Therefore, Governments of countries in which the death penalty is still enforced are urged to deploy every effort that could lead to its abolition, the desirability of which has repeatedly been affirmed by the General Assembly.”

Think Centre’s call to right to life in connection with capital punishment is guided by the desirability of abolition of the death penalty which has been expressed on numerous occasions by the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Committee, the Economic and Social Council and Security Council[ in its resolutions 808 (1993) of 22 February 1993 and 955 (1994) of 8 November 1994]

Let us rise above our feelings of fear and vengeance to seek solutions to drug trafficking and crimes that reflect human dignity and promote justice for all. We call on our government, the members of parliament, to abandon the use of death penalty.

In the interim, we endorse a moratorium on the death penalty in Singapore as fair and moral regarding the death penalty. It gives a chance to re-examine both the purpose of the penalty and its perceived effectiveness, and can save the lives of the condemned.

A sentence of life in prison for the most serious offenses would keep us just as safe. We could offer more help and guidance to troubled kids before they turn to drugs and crime. Instead of investing foolishly in vengeance, we ought to be investing wisely in humanityand human dignity.
Death penalty is a practice from the past like torture and slavery which must be rejected by all decent human beings. The death penalty is a inhumane, cruel and degrading punishment. The right to life is the most fundamental of all human rights.

We bring to your attention that in Singapore drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence and is inconsistent with the criteria of absolute necessity and proportionality. When a court wrongly sentences a person to death, the result is irreversible.

To read the rest of the statement, please click here.