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International human rights groups plead with Singapore to abolish the death penalty after six men were recently hanged

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Amnesty International and the United Nations Human Rights Office appealed to Singapore to stop the hangings and abolish the “cruel and irreversible” death penalty. The wealthy city-state has recently executed six men convicted of drug offences in October, despite pleas of clemency from the rights groups and neighbouring country Malaysia, which just this month announced that it was eradicating capital punishment by the end of the year.

Just this month, Singapore hanged six men, all for drug-related offences.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Singapore Researcher said that the death penalty “has no place in any society, as more than two-thirds of the world’s countries have come to recognise”.

One of the men executed was 31-year-old Malaysian national Prabu N. Pathmanathan. Pathmanathan, who was on death row since 2014 for possession of diamorphine, was hanged at Changi prison on Friday morning, October 26.

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Singaporean Irwan bin Ali was also put to death alongside Pathmanathan, following the “secret” hanging of Selamat bin Paki, according to the International Federation for Human Rights.

Legal counsel for Pathmanathan’s family, N. Surendran, said that their petition for clemency was unlawfully denied by the office of Singapore President Halimah Yacob, which had delivered a letter to Prabu’s family in response, saying it was “unable to accede to [their] request”.

Pathmanathan, according to Surendran, had become “a new man” and “very spiritual” after his time in prison.
“He wanted to live. He wanted to have another chance,” Surendran said.
He said that it was “extremely unfair and prejudicial to the prisoner and his family” to be given less than a week’s notice of Pathmanathan’s execution.
In light of the recent hangings, human rights groups have restrengthened their pleas for Singapore to finally abolish the death penalty.
Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Singapore Researcher, said the death penalty contravened international law.

“It is time for Singapore to re-establish its moratorium on the death penalty and follow the government of Malaysia’s example, who have suspended all executions and announced plans to abolish the use of this cruel punishment for all crimes.

“The fact Prabu Pathmanathan’s family in Malaysia received news of his impending execution –  all while their own government have just resolved to end this abhorrent practice – makes this case even more troubling”, she added.

“This cruel and irreversible punishment has no place in any society, as more than two-thirds of the world’s countries have come to recognize.”

 

On October 10, World Day Against the Death Penalty, Malaysia delivered the shocking announcement that it was abolishing the death penalty. The law is set to be in effect by the end of the year.

The largest number of Malaysia’s previous executions were mainly because of drug-related offences, though crimes like murder, kidnapping and treason were also previously subject to capital punishment.

Amnesty International is aware of a total of six executions this year in Singapore, all for drug-related crimes. In 2017, Singapore carried out eight executions, also for drug offences, but details of all the executions were not released to the public.

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