Thursday, November 05, 2015

Address to the One with Power to Save Kho Jabing

Dear President Tony Tan Keng Yam
Office of the President of the Republic of Singapore
Orchard Road, Singapore 238823
Fax: (65) 67353135

 I write this letter of appeal for Kho Jabing first sentenced to a mandatory death sentence in 2012, whose petition for clemency was rejected on 19 October.

After amendments to the Penal Code – which allows judges sentencing discretion for certain categories of murder – were enacted in 2013, Kho Jabing’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment with 24 strokes of the cane. However, the Prosecution decided to appeal against the outcome of the re-sentencing. On 14 January 2015, Jabing’s death sentence was reinstated after a five-judge panel at the Court of Appeal decided he had exhibited a “blatant disregard for human life” in a 3-2 decision.

The background to this death penalty shows the influence of a word wide reaction against the death penalty, most clearly shown in the five times repeated vote of the UN General Assembly in favour of a universal moratorium on the death penalty. While violence and the most awful crimes continue worldwide, there is a growing realisation that the response to violence must be, not more violence, but a justice limited by mercy. All life is sacred and our refusal to kill as others do in the name of justice, provides the clearest affirmation of the value of life. Capital punishment achieves nothing other than some satisfaction of vengeance accepting the same values as those who kill.

It is the season to make a turn, to value the life of Kho Jabing and others whom we feel driven to kill. Treat him, not in the same coin as he treated another, but allow him to reflect and realise the horror of the act of killing. The day will surely come when he too will value human life above all, and give a lesson to those who linger in violence that there is another path, that of humanity and justice.

Danthong Breen, Senior Advisor and Head of Death Penalty Project                                                             Union for Civil Liberty, Thailand

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