"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed, but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." - Oscar Wilde

Friday, May 29, 2015

Singapore: Urgent action required for Kho Jabing

The Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC) and We Believe in Second Chances strongly urge the Cabinet to advise the President, Mr Tony Tan, to grant clemency to death row inmate, Kho Jabing.

Sarawakian Kho Jabing, now 31, was convicted of murder under section 300(c) of the Penal Code on 24 May 2011, which carried the mandatory death sentence at the time of conviction. In 2012, Parliament amended the Penal Code to give judges the discretion to sentence offenders convicted under s 300(c) to life imprisonment with caning. This change was applied retrospectively and Kho was afforded an opportunity to have his death sentence reconsidered.

On 18 November 2013, Justice Tay Yong Kwang re-sentenced Kho to life imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane. On 14 January 2015, the Court of Appeal, by a majority decision (with 2 out of the 5 judges dissenting) overturned Justice Tay's decision and sentenced Kho to death.

We wish to highlight 2 issues with Kho's death sentence.

First, the dissent by the 2 judges should be taken as indication that reasonable doubt exists over whether Jabing should be sentenced to death. Indeed, both Justice Woo Bih Li and Justice Lee Seiu Kin reasoned that there was "reasonable doubt whether Jabing's blows were all inflicted when the deceased was laying on the ground" which made it "unsafe to conclude beyond reasonable doubt that he (Jabing) acted in away which exhibited a blatant disregard for human life".

Second, Jabing did not posses the intention to kill, nor was the murder premeditated. This was a robbery gone wrong. The death penalty, if it is to be applied at all, should be reserved for the most exceptional cases. In light of the above, we urge the Cabinet take into consideration these facts in advising the President and reiterate our call for a clemency pardon.

Kho's family delivered their clemency petition to the President on 27 May 2015. In their personal letters, they expressed their deep regrets to the family and loved ones of the victim, and pleaded with the President to extend compassion towards Kho and spare his life.

Source: Rachel Zeng, Singapore Anti-Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC), Damien Chng, We Believe in Second Chances, May 28, 2015

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