THREAD ⬇️

Following on from yesterday's thread, I'd like to talk a bit about the clemency process in #Singapore in relation to the #deathpenalty.
Under Article 22P of the Constitution of #Singapore, the President is able to, on the advice of the Cabinet (this bit is important), grant clemency to death row inmates. This is usually understood to mean that the President will commute the death sentence to life imprisonment. Image
There's a catch: the words "on the advice of the Cabinet". In 2011, the Court of Appeal ruled that this means the President must act according to what the Cabinet says. Essentially, while it is known as a presidential pardon, it is actually the Cabinet of #Singapore that decides.
For those who enjoy reading legal arguments, you can dive into the court's grounds of decision here: singaporelawwatch.sg/Portals/0/Docs…

If interested in further reading, here's a paper by an academic dissecting the decision: ink.library.smu.edu.sg/cgi/viewconten…
This was a matter of controversy in 2010/2011 in relation to the case of Yong Vui Kong, a young Sabahan who was on death row for drug trafficking. In 2010, while Yong's case was still before the Court of Appeal, Law Minister K Shanmugam said this: Image
At the time, Yong's lawyer, M Ravi, argued that these comments were sub judice and had "poisoned" his client's case with "biasedness". After the Court of Appeal decision that the President has to act according to the Cabinet's decision in clemency cases, we had more concerns.
Where the law ends, mercy begins. The president's power to grant a pardon should be the final check on the system — and it is especially important when the punishment is as grave and *irreversible* as the #deathpenalty.
But this check is completely undermined if the president can't consider a case and decide independently. #Singapore's ministers often defend the #deathpenalty, domestically & abroad. Look at Shanmugam's comment on whether Yong should get clemency, and what MinLaw said about it: Image
How independent and fair is the process if the Cabinet, including a minister like Shanmugam, is then the one considering Yong (or any other inmate)'s clemency plea, and telling the President what to do about it?

Why is the President just a rubber stamp in such a serious matter?
Every death row inmate has the right to submit an appeal to the President. I've accompanied multiple families to the Istana so they can submit their own pleas on behalf of their loved ones. These families have knelt on tarmac, stood under the hot sun, been drenched by rain. ImageImageImage
In the 10 years I've been involved in the #deathpenalty issue in #Singapore, I've never seen a successful clemency application (although we always try anyway).

Actually, there's been no clemency granted since 1998.
This is an example of a response. In my experience, the letter is signed by the President's Principal Private Secretary, not by the President. After this response, the prison authorities are free to schedule the hanging. #deathpenalty #Singapore Image
There was a clemency case in 2018, an inmate who was 15 when convicted of a capital offence. I haven’t counted this as a case #deathpenalty clemency, since his age at conviction meant he was detained at the president’s pleasure rather than on death row. straitstimes.com/singapore/anni…

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More from @kixes

26 Jan
Today: A protest by Singaporeans against transphobia in the education system.
They've issued a statement and are using the hashtag #FixSchoolsNotStudents
Within minutes security officers have shown up saying that photos can't be taken and asking them to leave. 2 protesters have left but 3 remain. #FixSchoolsNotStudents
Read 28 tweets
24 Sep 20
I'd like to share the story of Iwuchukwu Amara Tochi, a young Nigerian footballer.

In 2007, at the age of 21, Tochi was hanged in #Singapore.
Tochi was arrested in Changi Airport in #Singapore on 27 November 2004. He was 18 years old.

He was later charged with importing not less than 727.02g of heroin. His case largely revolved around whether he could rebut the presumption clauses within the Misuse of Drugs Act.
What are these presumption clauses? First: if you have more than 2g of heroin, Section 17 of #Singapore's Misuse of Drugs Act (here: sso.agc.gov.sg/Act/MDA1973#pr…) presumes that you are trafficking the drugs.
Read 23 tweets
23 Sep 20
This was brought to light on Monday. In an @STcom piece on Syed’s hearing, this is what the Ministry of Home Affairs had to say about the correspondence:

Turns out their position is there was no legal prohibition against sending privileged communication to the adverse party. Image
This is the @STcom story I got the screenshot from: straitstimes.com/singapore/cour… I believe the original headline was "Lawyer M Ravi seeks to delay drug trafficker's execution", but the story has since been amended to highlight the government's view/response.
According to Syed, the prison is executing Singaporeans first during #COVID19 since the families of foreigners can't visit. This, @MRavilaw argued, breaches Article 12 of #Singapore's Constitution that says all are equal before the law 'cos it treats lives differently.
Read 6 tweets
22 Sep 20
Some thoughts after observing the hearing for Syed Suhail bin Syed Zin today. Screenshots from my Facebook page since it's long and not particularly conducive to a thread. #deathpenalty #Singapore ImageImageImageImage
And one on what we know about how death row inmates' clemency petitions are considered in #Singapore.

tl;dr We don't know anything Image
Ultimately, I was very glad that the Court of Appeal decided to give both sides time to file further submissions, and that the next hearing will not take place before 7 October, thus giving Syed more time with his family. But these are the points I'm not pondering.
Read 4 tweets
22 Sep 20
Will be in court this afternoon for Syed’s hearing. 30k+ have signed a petition calling for clemency, he received a stay of execution, and the prison sent his privileged communication w/ his lawyer to the prosecution.

There has been no coverage by the local mainstream media.
Here's the @SCMPNews story on the hearing from @deweysim and @jbhavan: scmp.com/week-asia/poli…
Read 4 tweets
21 Sep 20
In 2018, #Singapore Prison Service forwarded 4 letters Syed wrote to his uncle + 1 letter he wrote to his then-DEFENCE COUNSEL to the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

At that time, Syed’s capital case was before the Court of Appeal. AGC was the prosecution. wethecitizens.substack.com/p/when-the-pri…
The Community Action Network and #Singapore Anti-#DeathPenalty Campaign have issued a statement: singaporecan.wordpress.com/2020/09/20/que…

There needs to be an independent investigation into and accounting for this clear breach of inmates’ privacy, and in Syed’s case, solicitor-client privilege.
From an August 2020 Court of Appeal judgment, we learn that this wasn’t an isolated case. Another death row inmate, Datchinamurthy, complained that the prison had, w/o consent, forwarded to the AGC documents given to him by his family.

From para 84: supremecourt.gov.sg/docs/default-s…
Read 10 tweets

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