Category Archives: Statements

Halt the execution of Chijioke Stephen Obioha

We Believe in Second Chances urges the President and Cabinet of Singapore to halt the imminent execution of Nigerian national Chijioke Stephen Obioha, whose execution has been scheduled for Friday 18 November.

Chijioke was arrested on 9 April 2007 and subsequently charged with trafficking 2,604.56 grammes of cannabis. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by the High Court in November 2008. Under Singaporean law, trafficking more than 500 grammes of cannabis is sufficient to attract the mandatory death penalty. A search of his rented room also turned up items like a utensil for smoking cannabis and a weighing scale.

Amendments were made to Singapore’s mandatory death penalty regime in 2012, and came into force in 2013. These changes meant that Chijioke was eligible to apply for re-sentencing, but he refused to do so because he insisted that he was innocent and felt that applying for re-sentencing would be an admission of guilt. His clemency petition was rejected in 2015 and his execution set for May that year.

One day before his execution, Chijioke decided to apply for re-sentencing, and was granted a stay of execution to do so. However, he later withdrew his application after being advised that he was unlikely to qualify as a courier under the amendments – one of the requirements that need to be fulfilled before one has a chance to escape the gallows. The stay of execution was lifted in October this year.

It is our view that the mandatory death penalty is a disproportionate and ineffective punishment to deal with the issue of drug trafficking. There is no evidence that this final and irreversible punishment is a more effective deterrent than alternative options, and our experience consistently emphasises that it is often disadvantaged individuals near or at the bottom of a drug syndicate’s hierarchy who face the gallows.

We also note that Chijioke has endured a very long period of 9 years in prison, much of it on death row. He is very far away from home, and has not been able to see his family in this time. We understand that death row inmates are kept in their cells for 23 hours a day, with only about a hour of ‘yard time’. We cannot underestimate the extreme psychological toll of being stuck on death row, facing imminent execution in such conditions.  

We urge the Cabinet of Singapore to halt the execution. It is still not too late to advise the President to grant clemency to Chijioke.

We also call upon all concerned individuals to contact the President and Cabinet of Singapore to add their voices to this plea for Chijioke’s life. Contact details for the President and members of the Cabinet are listed below.

President Tony Tan: tony_tan@istana.gov.sg

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong: lee_hsien_loong@pmo.gov.sg

Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean: teo_chee_hean@pmo.gov.sg

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam: tharman_s@pmo.gov.sg

Minister for Transport Khaw Boon Wan: khaw_boon_wan@mot.gov.sg

Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang: lim_hng_kiang@mti.gov.sg

Minister for Manpower Lim Swee Say: lim_swee_say@mom.gov.sg

Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim: yaacob_ibrahim@mci.gov.sg

Minster for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen: ng_eng_hen@mindef.gov.sg

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: v.bala@mfa.gov.sg

Minister for Home Affairs and Law K Shanmugam: k_shanmugam@mlaw.gov.sg

Minister for Health Gan Kim Yong: gan_kim_yong@moh.gov.sg

Minster for Trade and Industry (Industry) S Iswaran: s_iswaran@mti.gov.sg

Minister for Finance Heng Swee Keat: heng_swee_keat@mof.gov.sg

Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Fu: grace_fu@mccy.gov.sg

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Chan Chun Sing: chan_chun_sing@pmo.gov.sg

Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-jin: tan_chuan-jin@msf.gov.sg

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong: lawrence_wong@mnd.gov.sg

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli: masagos_zulkifli@mewr.gov.sg

Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng: ng_chee_meng@moe.gov.sg

Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung: ong_ye_kung@moe.gov.sg

Joint Statement: Halt imminent executions in Singapore and Indonesia

We the undersigned human rights organisations, and concerned human rights defenders condemn the imminent executions of Kho Jabing in Singapore and at least 15 individuals – which apparently includes 4 Chinese nationals, 2 Nigerians, 2 Zimbabweans, 1 Senegalese, 1 Pakistani and 5 Indonesian nationals – in Indonesia. We call on the authorities of the two countries to halt the impending executions.

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Joint statement on imminent execution of Kho Jabing

CLARIFICATION ADDED 15 May 2016

It has come to our attention that the President, while acknowledging Kho Jabing’s intention to file a fresh clemency petition, has taken the position that his decision to reject the previous clemency petition in October 2015 still stands. It is unclear if he will consider the new clemency petition once it is filed.

The death penalty is an irreversible punishment. A life once taken, cannot be returned. The fact that one High Court judge and two Judges of Appeal have expressed the opinion that the death penalty is not an appropriate punishment for Kho Jabing shows that there continues to be doubt a death sentence is justified in this case. It is on these grounds that we urge the President to grant clemency to Kho Jabing, and commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.

It is of utmost importance that this case not be rushed, and that the forthcoming clemency plea be given due deliberation. We call on the President of the Republic of Singapore to stay the execution scheduled for 20 May 2016 so as to allow a reasonable time for the consideration of Kho Jabing’s fresh clemency petition.

14 May 2016

For immediate release

We, the undersigned, are troubled by the imminent execution of Jabing Kho in Singapore, despite strong concerns over the development of his case. We believe there are strong grounds for President Tony Tan of the Republic of Singapore to grant clemency in this case.

The family of Sarawakian Jabing Kho, 31, received a letter from the Singapore Prison Service on 12 May 2016 informing them that his execution had been scheduled for 20 May 2016. Jabing was convicted of murder in 2011.

Continue reading Joint statement on imminent execution of Kho Jabing