WASHINGTON DC —
Many human rights groups are calling on Singapore and Indonesia to halt the imminent execution of a murderer and at least 15 drug convicts, who include four Chinese nationals, two Nigerians, two Zimbabweans, a Senegalese and Pakistani and five Indonesians.
Indonesia Chief Security Minister Luhut Pandjaitan told journalists recently that the executions could take place any time. Human rights groups opposed to the move are the Anti-Death Penalty Network Asia, Center for Prisoner’s Rights Japan, Community Action Network and Free Community Church of Singapore.
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and others have condemned the planned executions. Efforts to get a comment from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Harare or the Zimbabwe Embassy in Malaysia were futile.
Africa director for ICJ, Arnold Tsunga, told VOA Studio 7 that the death penalty must be abolished worldwide.
In a statement, several organizations said on May 12, 2016, the family of Kho Jabing, a Malaysian national on death row in Singapore, received a letter from the Singapore Prisons informing them that he would be executed on May 20, 2016. Kho Jabing was convicted of murder in 2011.
“Of particular concern is the fact that there was a lack of unanimity in sentencing Kho Jabing to death, which demonstrates that reasonable doubt exists as to whether he deserved the death penalty.
“As regards the imminent executions that will be taking place in Indonesia, Indonesia would contravene her own international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right by executing these individuals.”
The Association of South East Asian Nations (SEAN) member states, including Singapore and Indonesia, have continuously emphasized the importance of the rule of law and the protection of rights. “The death penalty therefore stands out as an aberration.”
In December 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted its latest resolutions calling on all states to adopt a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with a view towards abolition. A record number of 117 member states supported the resolution.
“Regrettably, Indonesia abstained and Singapore voted against the Resolution. The ASEAN Member States must use the opportunity presented by this Resolution to align themselves with the global movement towards abolition. Singapore has recently undergone its second Universal Periodic Review in January 2016.
“The continued use of the death penalty was one of the key highlights of the review, with Singapore receiving over 30 recommendations related to the death penalty, including recommendations to abolish the death penalty.”
In 2015, Indonesia, a United Nations Human Rights Council Member until 2017, executed 14 individuals convicted of drug-related offences amid strong international opposition.
“The imminent executions would further damage Indonesia’s human rights record and erode her standing in the international community. The death penalty has no place in the 21st Century. Not only is there a real possibility of wrongful executions, it deprives inmates of their life and dignity, and creates new classes of victims.
“We strongly urge the governments of Singapore and Indonesia to halt the upcoming executions, immediately impose a moratorium on the use of the death penalty and take meaningful steps towards its eventual abolition.”