Sunday, 16 May 2010

Singapore: Appeal against hanging of Yong Vui Kong

Amnesty International has issued the following Urgent Action appeal, calling for people to write to the Singapore government urging it not to execute Malaysian man Yong Vui Kong. Details of the latest appeal are above, with background on his case below.

14 May 2010

A Malaysian man is at immediate risk of execution in Singapore. On 14 May, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal against a mandatory death sentence, which violates fair-trial rights.

Yong Vui Kong was sentenced to death in January 2009 for trafficking 47 grams of diamorphine (heroin), a crime committed when he was 19 years old.

Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act makes the death penalty mandatory for trafficking more than 30 grams of heroin, leaving judges no discretion to consider issues such as mitigating circumstances or to hand down alternative sentences. The law presumes trafficking in all cases involving the possession of over 2 grams of heroin, which shifts the burden of proving that no trafficking was involved from the prosecution to the defendant. This violates the core human right to be presumed innocent of a crime until proven guilty.

The President of Singapore rejected Yong Vui Kong's petition for clemency on 1 December 2009. On 2 December 2009, the High Court postponed Yong Vui Kong’s execution (which had been set to take place on 4 December) to allow the Court of Appeal time to hear an application for a stay.

PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY in English or your own language:
- Urging President Nathan to reconsider Yong Vui Kong's clemency petition and commute his death sentence;
- Calling on the president to introduce an immediate moratorium on all executions, with a view to complete abolition of the death penalty;
- Reminding Law Minister Shanmugam, that the Misuse of Drugs Act violates international human rights law and standards concerning fairness of prosecutions and trials;
- Urging the Law Minister to recommend that Parliament revoke the mandatory death penalty for drug-trafficking and all other offences.


His Excellency SR Nathan
Office of the President
Orchard Road, Istana
Singapore 0922
Fax: +65 6735 3135
Salutation: Your Excellency

Minister for Law
The Honourable K Shanmugam
Ministry of Home Affairs
New Phoenix Park
28 Irrawaddy Road
Singapore 329560
Fax: +65 6258 0921
Salutation: Dear Mr Minister

And copies to:
The Straits Times
1000 Toa Payoh North
News Centre
Singapore 318994
Fax: +65 6319 8282

Also please send copies to Singapore's diplomatic representatives in your country.

This is the third update of UA 296/09. Further information:

Background - from Amnesty International Urgent Action appeal 269/09, 3 November 2009
Index: ASA 36/004/2009 Singapore

malaysian man facing execution in singapore
Yong Vui Kong was sentenced to death for drug trafficking in January 2009. He had exhausted his appeals by October, and can now escape execution only if the president grants clemency.

Yong Vui Kong was arrested in June 2007, when he was 19, by officers from the Central Narcotics Bureau. He was charged with trafficking 42.27 grams of heroin, and then sentenced to death in January 2009.

He had been working as a messenger for a man in Malaysia who often asked him to collect money from debtors or deliver packages as "gifts" to people in Singapore and Malaysia. At his trial, Yong Vui Kong said he had not known what was in the packages, and when he asked, he had simply been told not to open them. The judge, however, ruled that Yong must have been aware of their contents, saying in his written summation, "I found that the accused had failed to rebut the presumption against him. I am of the view that the prosecution had proved its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt, and I therefore found the accused guilty as charged and sentenced him to suffer death."

Yong was convicted under the Misuse of Drugs Act, which provides that anyone found guilty of illegally importing, exporting or trafficking more than 15 grams of heroin will automatically receive a mandatory death sentence.

Governments need to address crimes, including drug trafficking, but there is no clear evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other forms of punishment. The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions stated in his 2005 report that the "mandatory death penalty, which precludes the possibility of a lesser sentence being imposed regardless of the circumstances, is inconsistent with the prohibition of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." To date, 139 countries have abolished death penalty in law or practice.

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