Thursday, February 14, 2008

Black Hole of Singapore

SINGAPORE - Tan chor Jin

Tan chor Jin is facing execution after his final appeal was rejected on 30 January. He was sentenced to death in May 2007 for murder after a trial his lawyer described as unfair. Tan Chor Jin was also kept in solitary confinement before his trial. There is little public debate about the death penalty in Singapore and murder carries a mandatory death penalty. Singapore also has one of the highest execution rates per capita in the world.

A justice system which has a mandatory death penalty is unjust. Such a system excludes consideration of extenuating circumstances.
Singapore has not signed the fundamental human rights treaties which define the implications of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Meanwhile, they declaim on their right to maintain the death penalty. What about the right to life? It is now the widely accepted interpretation of the right to life that the death penalty may only be imposed 'for the most serious crimes' which does not include drug offenses. To sign the particular treaties is to recognize that right, not to establish it. The right already exists. Singapore spokespersons may puff all they wish and point to the diminishing club of recalcitrant states to which they belong in maintaining the death penalty, but the concealed executions in Changi darken the name of their island.

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