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No Second Chances: What to Do After a Botched Execution

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Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. The state shouldn't get a second chance.
The pathos and problems of America's death penalty were vividly on display yesterday when Ohio tried and failed to execute Alva Campbell. Immediately after its failure Gov. John Kasich set June 5, 2019, as a new execution date.
This plan for a second execution reveals a glaring inadequacy in the legal standards governing botched executions in the United States.
Campbell was tried and sentenced to die for murdering 18-year-old Charles Dials during a carjacking in 1997. After Campbell exhausted his legal appeals, he was denied clemency by the state parole board and the governor.
By the time the state got around to executing Campbell, he was far from the dangerous criminal of 20 years ago. As is the case with many of America's death-row inmates, the passage of time had inflicted its own punishments.
The inmate Ohio strapped onto the gurney was a 69-year-old man afflicted with serious ailm…

Singaporean drug trafficker executed at Changi Prison for heroin offence

Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali
Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali
SINGAPORE - Singaporean drug trafficker Muhammad Ridzuan Md Ali, 31, was executed at Changi Prison on Friday (May 19), having exhausted all avenues of appeal following his conviction in 2013.

Ridzuan had been found guilty in the High Court of trafficking in 72.50 grams of pure heroin and sentenced to death by the High Court on April 10, 2013.

The Misuse of Drugs Act provides for the death penalty if the amount of diamorphine trafficked is more than 15 grams.

The Central Narcotics Bureau said yesterday that 72.50 grams of diamorphine is equivalent to about 6,004 straws, which is sufficient to feed the addiction of about 864 abusers for a week.

"This is estimated using a typical purity level of four per cent, based on drug seizures in recent years. The number of straws made may vary according to the purity level of the heroin," added CNB.

His appeal against conviction and sentence was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on Feb 27, 2014 but in April that year, Ridzuan sought leave from the High Court to start judicial review proceedings against the Public Prosecutor's decision not to grant him a certificate of substantive assistance.

The High Court dismissed the application on July 17, 2014 and in Oct 2015, the Court of Appeal rejected his appeal.

On Jan 8, 2016, Ridzuan took his case to the Court of Appeal for the third time by way of a criminal motion for the Court of Appeal to review its decisions on his appeals, on grounds that the Misuse of Drugs Act provisions under which he was sentenced to death were unconstitutional.

The apex court dismissed the criminal motion on Dec 2, 2016. He submitted a petition for clemency to the President which was unsuccessful.

"Muhammad Ridzuan was accorded full due process under the law, and he was represented by legal counsel throughout the process," said the CNB.

Source: Straits Times, May 19, 2017


EU statement contradicts S'pore Govt's claim that death penalty is "deterrent" to crime


Singapore's Changi Prison
Singapore's Changi Prison
There is no evidence that the death penalty is a deterrent to crime, said the European Union Delegation to Singapore on Thursday.

The statement, issued together with the EU Heads of Mission and the Head of Mission of Norway, was in response to the plea by anti-death penalty advocates on the then impending execution of Muhammad Ridzuan on Friday morning.

It was a last-minute attempt by the activists, who had also written to the Singapore President, to save Ridzuan's life after he had been sentenced to death for trafficking in heroin into Singapore.

The appeal was denied and Ridzuan was hanged on Friday morning.

The Singapore Government's defence of the death penalty for drugs (and other crimes such as murder) has always been based on the claim that it deters criminals and crime, even though there has not been conclusive proof of such effect.

This, however, has not dissuade Government ministers from making such claims each time the issue is debated.

For example, in 2012, when Parliament was debating changes to the Misuse of Drugs Act (MDA), Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told the House that:

"Singaporeans understand that the death penalty has been an effective deterrent and an appropriate punishment for very serious offences, and largely support it."

A recent research by the National University of Singapore (NUS), however, found that support for the death penalty was more "nuanced".

For example, the research found:

"Although 70 % of those surveyed said they were in general favour of the death penalty, very few expressed strong views either way, researchers said. Of those in favour, just 8 % said they were strongly in favour; of those that were against it, just 3 % said they strongly opposed." (CNA)

The survey also found that there was "weak support for the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking and firearms offences in particular, where no death or injury had occurred."

Yet, the Singapore Government continues to make 2 claims - 1st, that the death penalty is a "strong deterrent", and 2nd, that Singaporeans support it.


EU statement


The EU, on its part, "holds a principled position against the death penalty and is opposed to the use of capital punishment under any circumstances."

"No compelling evidence exists to show that the death penalty serves as a deterrent to crime," it said in its statement.

"Furthermore, any errors - inevitable in any legal system - are irreversible. The EU will continue in its pursuit of the abolition of the death penalty worldwide."

Ridzuan


Muhammad Ridzuan's case is particularly troubling because he was arrested and charged for the same crime as his accomplice, Abdul Haleem, who was spared the death penalty because - in the eyes of the Public Prosecutor - Abdul Haleem had "substantively assisted" the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in "disrupting" drugs syndicates within Singapore or outside Singapore.

Ridzuan, for unknown reasons because the Prosecutor is not required to explain his decision, was deemed not to have "substantively assisted" the CNB, and thus had no recourse to have his death sentence commuted.

The Prosecutor's decision is made behind closed doors and the law explicitly states that his decision is not opened to review, even by the Court of Appeal.

Family, friends and supporters had gathered outside Changi Prison on Friday morning as the execution of Ridzuan was carried out.

Source: theindependent.sg, May 20, 2017

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