NOVEMBER 3 ― The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) urgently calls on the government of Singapore to halt the impending execution of 31-year-old Sarawakian Kho Jabing, whose application for clemency was rejected by the President of Singapore on October 19.
Kho Jabing was arrested in February 2008 for his participation in a robbery during which he hit a victim with a wooden stick or branch, resulting in the man’s death. He was convicted in 2010 under Section 300c of Singapore’s Penal Code, and his mandatory death sentence was confirmed by the Court of Appeal in 2011.
In 2013, amendments to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty regime came into force, allowing Jabing the opportunity to be re-sentenced. Describing Jabing’s actions as “opportunistic and improvisational”, a High Court judge re-sentenced him to life imprisonment with 24 strokes of the cane. However, the prosecution appealed and in January 2015 a five-judge Court of Appeal reinstated the death sentence after deeming in a majority decision that Jabing had “exhibited a blatant disregard for human life”.
It is important to note that Jabing’s final death sentence was not passed with a unanimous decision, but a slim majority. Two of the five appeal judges did not feel that the death penalty was appropriate for his crime, and felt that there was reasonable doubt as to the number of times and intensity with which Jabing had hit his victim that would affect any consideration of whether he had acted with a blatant disregard for human life.
The death penalty is the most final and irreversible of punishments. We cannot afford a single shred of doubt when a state condemns an individual to the gallows. Yet here we have the case of three learned judges ― the High Court judge and two Court of Appeal judges ― saying they did not believe capital punishment suitable in Jabing’s case. It is therefore unsafe to pass the ultimate sentence of death when doubt clearly exists even among Singapore’s most esteemed legal professionals.
ADPAN urges the President and the Cabinet of Singapore to reconsider their decision not to grant Jabing clemency.