Saturday, July 15, 2017

Singapore again Executes: Mandatory execution a legal abomination

"A Malaysian drug trafficker was hanged by Singapore yesterday despite a plea for clemency from the United Nations and concerns expressed by rights groups over alleged flaws in his trial.
Prabagaran Srivijayan was arrested in 2012 after 22.24g of heroin was found in the car he was driving when it was stopped at a checkpoint going to Singapore.
He was sentenced to death two years later after being convicted of drug-trafficking. Trafficking certain volumes of illegal drugs into Singapore carries a mandatory death penalty unless certain conditions are met for the sentence to be commuted."

The opening sentence of this news item expresses two of three flagrant injustices in Singapore behavior. The first injustice is the refusal to accept UN norms regarding the death  penalty. Singapore still quibbles with the accepted interpretation of Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, "Everyone has the right to life".
Singapore has consistently maintained that the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime and has rejected calls to abolish capital punishment.  In particular, the only possible justification for the death penalty is in response to deliberate homicide, not crimes relating to drugs. A mandatory death penalty is a legal abomination.

The second injustice relates to alleged flaws in the trial of the accused:
Amnesty International had raised concerns about the fairness of the trial, including the alleged failure of the authorities “to follow up leads and call on key witnesses that would corroborate his version of events”.
But following the execution, the narcotics bureau said Srivijayan was “accorded full due process under the law, and he was represented by legal counsel throughout the process”.
The veracity of the narcotics bureau is questioned by FIDH: "
"Singaporean authorities have never allowed Prabagaran’s attorneys, N Surendran and Latheefa Koya, who were hired by Prabagaran’s mother in January 2017, to visit him in Changi Prison. Authorities did not provide any reason for this denial. The denial of Prabagaran to meet with his legal representatives falls short of international fair trial standards. According to General Comment No. 32 concerning Article 14(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), “in cases involving capital punishment, it is axiomatic that the accused must be effectively assisted by a lawyer at all stages of the proceedings.”
 
A third injustice is to precede with execution while legal process was continuing:
"His lawyers contended that he still had an appeal pending in Malaysian courts, where lawyers had filed an application to compel the Malaysian government to take his case to the International Court of Justice amid concerns he did not get a fair trail." FIDH

Death Penalty Thailand has frequently submitted protests to executions. However, on this occasion, we were aware that nothing can deflect the microstate of Singapore from pursuing its bloody way, ignoring world opinion and counter argument. But this makes it all the more necessary to protest this unjust and pointless execution. There must be other ways to bring sanity to this blind system of injustice. A recent film "The Apprentice" gave voice to another form of protest; it represents the moral collapse of a Singapore hangman, the final link in an unjust and inhuman practice. I hope that we can all contribute to this chorus of disapproval.

 


Sunday, May 28, 2017

Thailand, death penalty prison statistics, April 2017


                                     Men:             373     drug cases  172    Other   201 
                                     Women:         74     drug cases    64    Other      10

                                     Total            447     drug cases  236   Other   211

Friday, May 12, 2017

"Drug 'reform' madness"

"The oft repeated quotation of the phrase attributed to Albert Einstein, “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, comes to mind immediately on reading the leading article of 10th May “Drug reform still pending”. It is my experience that those in the front line of the struggle against drug addiction in Thailand have long been aware of the road block in drug reform. I recall participating several years ago in a seminar held in the Bangkok ONCB office where realistic assessment of Thailand's drug problems were presented, an admission of past failures to control drug traffic in the Kingdom, and, finally, a clear and hopeful proposal of change which would be based in large on a policy of decriminalisation of drugs. Several foreign participants were present, and one of them came to ask me whether the message we had just heard implied a serious move on the part of Thai authorities. My answer was, no, it did not. The forces of insanity were not participants in the seminar, and would continue on their blind path.
There is no doubting the gravity of the problem.  72% of our critically overcrowded prisons are crammed with men and women condemned with utmost severity on drug related crimes, while a few token and showpiece drug treatment centres are half empty. The director of one such centre told me that he did not understand why so few drug cases were referred to him. At the same time in Geneva a government representative assured the Human Rights Committee, that Thailand had reform centres which were undertaking rehabilitation of drug addicts.
Unfortunately, Thailand is not alone in its drug problem insanity; the Philippines has become an arena of bloody murder in the streets in the name of drug suppression, and won support in the recent ASEAN meeting in Manila. Insanity thus becomes a regional norm.
Of course, the always asked question is, if not the path of suppression, what other path is there? Yes, there are other ways, and there are countries who are bravely taking the path of decriminalisation and rehabilitation, most notably the policy of Portugal, which introduced a new programme on drugs in the year 2000. The new law does not deny that drugs are dangerous, but admits that repression does not give better results and endangers people's health
The problem of drugs is one of the most serious human problems ever encountered in human history, and its solution cannot be quick or facile. Success is counted in complex statistics which monitor a stop in growth of the drug epidemic, and then a slow but certain turn around. The problem involves human perceptions and behaviour and one of the great successes of Portugal is in changing the perception of a whole nation to accept that the person addicted to drugs is a patient in need of treatment, rather than a criminal to be persecuted.
In 2003 when Thailand changed the method of execution to lethal injection rather than death by machine gun, a team from the Department of Corrections was sent to the US to learn the new technique of killing. Surely it is opportune to send a similar team to Portugal to learn the technique of restoring life to those trapped in the way of death."
Danthong Breen, Union for Civil Liberty

PostBag, Bangkok Post, 12 May 2017

Speech on Drug Policy Relevant to Whole World

United Nations Special Rapporteur Agnes Callamard, on May 5th, delivered a speech at drug policy convention at the University of the Philippines Diliman.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
I want to thank the organizers of the policy forum – FLAG anti-death penalty job power – for organizing this Forum and alluring me to take part in it – I’m each grateful and honored!
This is a crucial initiative – a well timed initiative – one which I help wholeheartedly.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimate that worldwide some 29 million individuals who use medicine endure from drug use problems whereas drug trafficking by trans-national prison cartels is a serious source of violence and insecurity the world over, affecting each society. Drug trafficking can be a serious source of corruption, undermining each the rule of regulation and good governance and eroding public belief.
Another, drug trafficking, drug abuse and their penalties represent main threats to the lives, well being, dignity and hopes of hundreds of thousands of individuals and their family members. In response, nearly a yr in the past to this very day, Heads of State and Government assembled at the United Nations Headquarters to think about a world plan of motion known as: Our joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside. I encourage you to seek the advice of it.
The doc is troublesome to summarize given its breadth however enable me to spotlight a couple of of its key features for you:
The particular session of the UN General Assembly drafted a complete strategy that takes into consideration a variety of human and different components that drive the drug downside together with social improvement, public well being, justice and human rights. It requires simpler approaches than the punishment/punitive mannequin that some governments have adopted.
It urges governments to uphold the inherent dignity of all people, to respect, defend and promote all human rights, elementary freedoms and the rule of regulation and in the improvement and implementation of drug insurance policies.
II
The joint Commitment additionally acknowledges that dependence is a posh well being dysfunction of a power and relapsing nature, whose social causes and penalties could be prevented and handled by, inter alia, efficient scientific evidence-based drug remedy, care and rehabilitation packages, together with community-based packages.
The world’s leaders acknowledged the essential function performed by civil society organizations and people entities concerned in drug-related remedy providers and dedicated to accentuate their function and cooperation with them.
They denounced repeatedly, drug-related corruption; decrying its function in the obstruction of justice, together with by intimidation of justice officers.
They promised to elaborate efficient scientific evidence-based prevention methods which are centered on and tailor-made to the wants of people, households and communities and so they dedicated to advertise proportionate national sentencing insurance policies, practices and tips too for drug-related offenses.
Throughout the joint dedication doc, governments affirm the significance of systematic information assortment, proof gathering, scientific analysis and the sharing of knowledge together with the alternate of greatest practices associated to stopping and countering drug-related crime.
What governments didn’t decide to final yr was “the war on drugs” strategy.
Quite to the opposite. They known as for what quantities to a balanced, multi-faceted, multi-disciplinary strategy, and so they positioned nice emphasis on well being, rights, and justice.
They didn’t recommend that death penalty was an applicable or efficient response to medicine trafficking, not to mention drug use; Instead, they spoke about proportionate sentencing and various punishments.
Their doc will not be good. The joint Commitment to Effectively Addressing and Countering the World Drug Problem is criticized, by activists and quite a few politicians from round the world, for not contemplating extra explicitly the function of hurt discount methods, as an example, comparable to needle and syringe packages and prescription of substitute medicines.
But in April 2016, the basic meeting of the world’s authorities acknowledged explicitly that the “war on drugs” – be it group based mostly, national or world – doesn’t work. And additional, that many harms related to medicine are usually not attributable to medicine, however by the adverse impacts of badly thought out drug insurance policies.
The joint dedication to successfully addressing and countering the world drug downside is a name for motion, however to not any motion: based on the world’s leaders there are different methods, higher methods; evidenced-based, scientific methods, of combating drug abuse and trafficking – methods that don’t make issues worse.
Badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies not solely fail to deal with substantively drug dependency, drug-related criminality, and the drug commerce, they add extra issues, as has been properly documented, round the world, together with by United Nations our bodies and Special Rapporteurs.
They add, escalate and/or compound issues comparable to:
  • Killings, extra-judicial or by prison gangs; the break-down of the rule of regulation;
  • vigilante crimes,
  • Torture, ill-treatment and sexual violence;
  • Prolonged pre-trial detention, necessary sentencing and disproportionately lengthy sentences for drug possession, and many others.
  • Detention in drug and rehabilitation centres with out trial or a correct analysis of drug dependency;
  • Non-consensual experimental remedy;
And additional, badly thought out, ill-conceived drug insurance policies can foster a regime of impunity infecting the complete justice sector and reaching into complete societies, invigorating the rule of violence relatively than of regulation; eroding public belief in public establishments; breeding concern and main individuals to despair.
These are the findings from analysis undertaken round the world. Let me be clear. In none of the nations the place the perverse penalties of ill-thought out drug insurance policies have been reported, in none of those nations did the drug downside disappear. In truth, the reverse occurred.
III
And so we’re right here in the present day and tomorrow – to take inventory – to study from consultants right here and from overseas, those that have lengthy thought-about, studied and analyzed drug insurance policies, their influence and effectiveness. And we’re right here, collectively, to contribute ourselves to the implementation of the joint dedication by:
  • Providing proof and information to help evidence-based insurance policies and techniques;
  • Collaborating and cooperating throughout totally different nations and various areas of experience – highlighted as being so essential by governments final yr;
  • Listening to 1 one other, respectfully, politely however participating too in sturdy alternate;
  • Developing proposals with and for the Government of the Philippines, different stakeholders, and the individuals of the Philippines – proposals on drug insurance policies and responses which are efficient, and sustainable, bearing in mind the nation’s particular scenario, historical past and contect, in addition to its a number of property and alternatives.
To take par in these exchanges is really a privilege and I thanks for it.
IV
Let me finish by sharing a couple of extra private reflections.
Those of us who’re concerned in human rights works know solely too properly that we live in a world filled with intense disruption. Its signs and its foot print is there for all to see; obvious all over the place. Climate, individuals motion, globalized financial system and globalized crime…however it is usually the case that there’s too is a disruption of norms and values.
The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’advert Al Hussein, has typically lamented the caustic penalties of those disruptions: It will not be merely that human rights are abused – they continuously have been.
What is phenomenal is the indisputable fact that the very concept of human rights is being questioned and in lots of locations rejected. And that constitutes a marked alteration of the environment globally and domestically, probably the most vital human rights improvement since the institution of the trendy world and common human rights system at the finish of world conflict two.
The assaults we’re witnessing on common, indivisible rights; the undermining of equality, dignity, and accountability – share similarities wherever they happen:
  • There is an in depth software – even advocacy – of a doctrine of world conflict
  • A sure conception of safety, narrowly outlined and in opposition to real human safety, is taking maintain,
  • A blurring if distinctions between combatants and non-combatants; and an ever broadening understanding if the “enemy,” together with the enemy inside.
More crucially nonetheless this rejection of human rights is based on a rejection of our frequent humanity.
The rejects – those who do not slot in, are usually not welcome, are to be rejected, criminalized, punished could differ from nation to nation, group to group, chief to chief – however res assured they’re all human.
  • They could also be migrants or refugees
  • They could also be the poor or the very poor, the homeless.
  • They are avenue kids
  • Indigenous individuals;
  • Political opponents or critics;
  • They are the different…and
  • They could also be drug customers or drug pushers.
Any considered one of these and so many others who, are for one motive or one other, denied their humanity and their human standing – their rights – to justice, to freedom or motion, to safety from power, to freedom of expression. Denied as proper holders, as residents.
These profoundly disturbing developments are occurring at the fingers of authorities that ought to and might know higher. Their demonization – and the unaccountable, empowerment of authority that accompanies it – pushes open a door onto an abyss – a void into which humanity has thrown itself earlier than with terrible penalties – as a result of, after all, one can not deny the humanity if some individuals with out shedding humanity for all individuals.
V
And so we’re right here in the present day.
I’m immensely grateful for this invitation, for giving me the unbelievable alternative to spend a while with you.
Over the final eight months since I’ve been appointed UN Special Rapporteur I’ve watched from afar, however by no means from too far. I’ve adopted testimonies of the kinfolk of victims, I’ve seen the courageous work of civil society actors, legal professionals, human rights defenders, teachers, senators, I’ve heard debates between politicians, explanations by authorities officers, and certainly I’ve watched footage too of police and army males – and all saying there are different methods; higher methods; different choices, and higher choices.
This forum, with the dedication and the good will of all events, from the authorities to civil society, from the police to the well being sector – is a crucial benchmark to shine the mild of scrutiny, of truth discovering, of data, of proof – neutral and true – in order that we could search extra clearly our strategy to stopping, responding, supporting.
This mild of proof will assist establish and implement the very best drug/anti drug insurance policies, and interventions. That mild will lead – to proper upheld, fulfilled and loved for and by all.
An American vp Hubert Humphrey as soon as noticed “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life”.
People dwelling in life’s shadows are to not be deserted there.
We are to not be deserted there.
I’m deeply honored to have been concerned on this journey with you and deeply dedicated to proceed on that journey with you, starting with these two days convention.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

An answer to failure of Duterte, from his Vice-President

                                                                                     
Why not decriminalize drug use? VP urges gov’t to study Portugal move

Is decriminalizing drug use the better alternative to killing drug addicts?
Vice President Leni Robredo, who is banned by Duterte from his cabinet meetings, suggested on Friday that the Philippines look to the example of Portugal, which made the radical decision of decriminalizing drug use in 2001, leading to lower drug-related deaths and declines in drug abuse among its citizens.
Robredo was the guest at a forum in the University of the Philippines in Los Baños when she was challenged by a student to offer an alternative to the government’s deadly drug war, which has left thousands dead since last year.
She said the government should study the best practices by countries that found solutions to the drug menace, and cited Portugal as a “triumphant” example, according to a transcript of the exchange sent by her staff.
Robredo did not directly propose following the Portuguese government’s policy of decriminalizing drug use, but noted how the European nation dramatically shifted its focus from looking at drug abuse punitively to treating it as a health issue requiring treatment and reintegration.
She contrasted it with the failed drug campaigns by state forces in Latin America, most of which had focused on violent methods.
“If we only study the drug campaigns around the world, we will see that the countries that used violence in combating drugs never succeeded. Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico —these countries used force, they fought fire with fire. Many lives were lost but they were not successful,” she said in Filipino.
“Who were successful?” she asked the students.
“One of those is Portugal. What did Portugal do? Portugal found a system to combat drugs that was peaceful and orderly. They reformed their laws; they strengthened rehabilitation [of addicts]; they fixed their institutions responsible for rehabilitating. They were triumphant,” Robredo said.
Portugal decriminalized personal possession of all drugs in 2001.
This did not mean possessing drugs for personal use became legal, but rather, it was considered an administrative violation punishable by fines or community service.
According to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Portugal registered lower drug use levels than the European average since the decriminalization policy took effect in 2001.
Drug use also declined among those aged 15-24, the population most at risk of initiating drug use, the UK-based group said in a 2015 report.
“Overall, this suggests that removing criminal penalties for personal drug possession did not cause an increase in levels of drug use,” the foundation said. It noted, however, that besides decriminalization, Portugal instituted corresponding social and health reforms that aided the new drug policy.
“This tallies with a significant body of evidence from around the world that shows the enforcement of criminal drug laws has, at best, a marginal impact in deterring people from using drugs,” it said.
In the UP forum, Robredo said it was important to learn from the experience of other countries facing drug problems.
“Why don’t we look at the best practices and try them, because we have enough lessons in the past from other countries to determine what works and what doesn’t,” she said.
She said she wished to pursue community rehabilitation for drug dependents.
“Many of those who surrendered were not really drug dependents but occasional drug users. Why don’t we create a program for them?” she said.
Robredo noted how congested Philippine jails were, with more than half of the inmate population incarcerated for drug-related offenses.

Philippine Enquirer, 23rd April 2017

Robredo was elected Vice President independently of President Duterte and differs from him on most issues.
 

Sunday, April 09, 2017

They shot him. Just like that.

 
                                                                     
                                                  Raymart, son of Luzviminda

Luzyiminda Siapo dreamt of giving her children a better life when she left for Kuwait two years ago. But last week news from home, the kind nightmares are made of, sent the domestic running back.
On March 29th, a group of men in ski masks abducted and killed her 19-year old son Raymart a day after a neighbour tagged him as a marijuana peddler in Barangay NBBS, Navotas City.

“All it took was a false accusation for these people to murder my son,” Siapo, a single parent, said in an interview earlier this week. They did not bother to investigate, they did not bother to verify. “They just killed him”. The night before the murder, Raymart and a neighbour had a heated argument that ended with the latter going to the barangay hall to accuse Raymart of many things, like selling marijuana. The neighbour, ideentified only as Pejie, said his piece before desk officer Christopher Cariquitan who had everything recorded in his logbook.

The following night, aarmed men on motorbikes came looking for the teenager. An uncle who served as Raymart's guardian said over 14 men arrived and five of them entered their target's house. They couldn't find Raymart but later located him at a friend's house nearby.

Last cries for help
Forced to ride with the group, Raymart was last heard crying for help from anyone he saw on the street. They went around the barangay until they reached the area known as Bangkulasi.
The gunmen reportedly asked Raymart to get off the motorcycle and run. He wouldn't, and couldn't for Raymart was born with bilateral club foot (both feet were deformed).

“When my son refused, they asked him to sit down instead. Then, they shot him. Just like that, Stapo said.

Aie Balagtas See: Philippine Daily Enquirer, April 9

Comment by M. Ceres P. Doyo in Phillipine Enquirer, 4/13/2017

                                                        There s no name for her pain

Monday, April 03, 2017

"All the world's a stage"

                                                                                      
MANILA - A Philippine youth theatre club staged a musical at a Manila park on Sunday, challenging President Duterte's bloody war on drugs. The count of those gunned down is over 8,000.
"The 20-minute show features a casket salesman whose funeral parlour is doing brisk business as corpses pile up.
But the salesman and his friends end up as statistics, falling to vigilante-style killings that have gripped the Southeast Asian nation and alarmed the international community."

See original photo of the slaying below in "There is nothing more to say"

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Philippines: Latest killing

 
                                                                                                    
                                                         Is this a human being?

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The trauma of being an executioner

 
                                                                                     
An article in the “Guardian” newspaper, carries the heading, “The psychological impact on execution teams is one of the least discussed aspects of capital punishment in the US, yet arguably one of the most disturbing” : to introduce the article, “Eight executions in 11 days: Arkansas order may endanger staff's mental health” , The Guardian, 30th March, 2017. The article begins by relating the experience of a Dr. Alan Ault who as commissioner of the department of corrections in Georgia,gave the order for five executions by electric chair in 1994 and 1995. After the fifth life was taken, the cumulative distress reached breaking point and he resigned from the post.

Next month, the state’s Republican governor of Georgia has scheduled no fewer than eight executions over 11 days: “On Wednesday, 23 former corrections officials from 16 different states sent a joint letter to Hutchinson urging him to reconsider. They warned, several on the basis of personal experience, that participating in executions can exact a “severe toll on corrections officers’ wellbeing” and that by doing so many so quickly, Arkansas was “needlessly exacerbating the strain and stress placed on these officers”. The article goes on to report senseless exchanges on the issue, such as a justification that scheduling the executions over a short time would reduce the stress for the team of executioners. How convenient! I am reminded of a state in India where executions had not been carried out for several years. Suddenly, a judge sent an order of execution to the prison ordering a resumption of executions. The prison staff responded with the terse response that if he wished a resumption of executions he could come and carry them out himself!

It is true that in the debate on the death penalty and its abolition, little attention is paid to the trauma of those who carry out the execution on our behalf. However, in Thailand, this aspect of capital punishment has been treated with immense insight and sympathy by Tom Waller in his film “The Last Executioner” where the conflict in the mind and heart of Thailand's last executioner, Chavoret Jaruboon is treated, using all the arts of the powerful medium of film. Chavoret, in his day, executed 55 prisoners, including one woman. He wrote an artless account of his life and the trade which shaped it, as it did the lives of his family. One cannot add, and his friends or acquaintances, for he was a lonely and possessed man. Perhaps only his superior officers understood something of the effects of being an executioner to their command. The writer of this blog met Chavoret, and felt his longing for approval and acceptance. The film of Tom Waller is often surreal, as the world of karma and guilt intrude into a the banality of a very ordinary life. But its art is great, and offers a profound reflection on the act of judicial killing.

Significantly, the moment of crisis in the film, which strains the self justification of Chavoret, and disrupts his family harmony, is his botched execution of a condemned woman. But that will be a story for another day.




Thursday, March 23, 2017

An Example for All Nations to Inform Their Citizens

 


                                          
                                          Click on Image above to read statement