The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) is concerned by the Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision on Tuesday to uphold the death sentence given to Kho Jabing of Malaysia and urges the Government to immediately establish a moratorium on capital punishment.
“We are gravely concerned that Mr. Kho is at imminent risk of hanging as the court has lifted the stay of execution,” said Laurent Meillan, OHCHR’s acting regional representative in Bangkok. “We are also concerned that he has been forced to endure years of immense suffering as his sentence has been changed on a number of occasions.”
Mr. Kho, 31, was sentenced to death in 2010 after being found guilty of murder. At the time, a mandatory death penalty applied to all cases of murder in Singapore. Following a change in the legislation in 2012 which now gives judges the option of giving a life term for murders where there is ‘no intention to cause death’, he was re-sentenced to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane in 2013.
In January 2015, the Court of Appeal decided to re-impose the death penalty. The following November, Mr. Kho was granted a temporary stay of execution less than 24 hours before he was due to be hanged as a result of an appeal by his lawyer.
The UN Human Rights Office calls on the Singapore Government not to carry out Mr. Kho’s execution.
OHCHR’s Regional Office welcomes the Government’s decision to apply legislative changes to sentences related to some cases of murder and certain categories of drug trafficking. Media reports have said at least five people - one convicted of murder and four others with drug trafficking – have had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.
“While we are encouraged by the recent positive steps, we call on the Government to pursue more comprehensive death penalty reforms with the ultimate aim of abolishing the death penalty altogether,” said Meillan.
The UN Human Rights Office said it was also concerned that four individuals were executed in Singapore in 2015 - one for murder and the others for drug-related offences – which is a sharp increase from previous years. Singapore executed two people in 2014 and there were no executions during the de facto moratorium from 2011 to 2013. These statistics were released in Singapore Prison Service’s annual report this February.
Several States called on Singapore to abolish the death penalty during its human rights review in Geneva in January 2016.