Press Statement

Singapore’s response to Malaysia’s plea for Helmi is arrogant & undiplomatic; brutal & unlawful process of execution in Changi

23 November 2019

We refer to the press statement issued last night by the Singapore Law and Home Ministries claiming that Malaysian citizen Abd Helmi Ab Halim’s execution on Friday was justified as part of its ‘anti-drug strategy’.

The statement is a combination of dishonest excuses and false statements, and is breathtakingly arrogant.

Firstly, the statement deliberately and dishonestly avoids admitting to the fact that Helmi was hanged for allegedly trafficking a mere 16 grams of drugs. The punishment of death over just 16 grams is clearly disproportionate and a grave injustice.

This has led to great unease over this execution among the Malaysian government and the public, with television and radio programmes focusing on it throughout the week. Malaysians have watched with increasing horror as time ran out for Helmi without any sign of a reprieve.

Secondly, the statement also suggested that Malaysia is not doing enough to arrest drug kingpins in Malaysia. This is an undiplomatic swipe at a friendly neighbour. It is intended to hide the fact that Singapore itself has done little to catch the drug kingpins, while regularly executing low-level drug mules. It is significant that Singapore is unable to point to a single major drug kingpin arrest by their own enforcement bodies.

Thirdly, the statement also claims that the death penalty has been an effective deterrent against drug trafficking in Singapore. This is a blatant lie. There are no known studies or statistics proving this, and the statement also does not provide any such evidence.

Fourthly, the claim that the use of the death penalty for drug crimes in Singapore is ‘in accordance with its international law obligations’ is also patently false. The UN Human Rights Committee as well as UN Special Rapporteurs have categorically stated that the death penalty for drug crimes contravenes international standards and amounts to unlawful killing.

By ignoring these norms and standards, Singapore is rapidly becoming an international pariah nation.

Finally, we have also received shocking information relating to the process of execution at Changi prison. We have incontrovertible evidence that unlawful and extremely brutal methods are secretly used in carrying out hangings by the Singapore Prison Services (SPS). We are prepared to reveal this evidence, supplied by prison officers, in due course.

Meanwhile, we urge the government of Singapore to emulate the good example of Malaysia, by placing an immediate moratorium on executions for drug offences and review the imposition of the death penalty for drug offences. We hope Singapore will do so, before we are compelled to disclose the above-mentioned evidence, which will prove to be an international embarrassment for them.

Issued by,
N Surendran
Lawyers for Liberty