PUBLIC AI Index: ASA 36/04/98
EXTRA 43/98 Death Penalty 1 July 1998
SINGAPORELim Chin Chong, aged 19
Amnesty International fears that Lim Chin Chong may be at risk of imminent
execution. The 19-year-old Malaysian was sentenced to death for murdering a
65-year-old man. In April 1998 the Court of Appeal upheld his death sentence,
dismissing Lim Chin Chong’s claim that he committed the murder whilst suffering
from a mental disorder caused by a sexual advance from the man. His final recourse
is to petition the President of Singapore for clemency. Clemency has only
reportedly ever been granted in five cases.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or
degrading treatment, as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The death penalty is an inherently unjust and arbitrary punishment, however
heinous the crime for which it is provided. Studies have shown that it is
more likely to be imposed on those who are poorer, less educated and more
vulnerable than average. The risk of error in applying the death penalty is
inescapable, yet it is irrevocable. Furthermore, there is no convincing
evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other
In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the number of executions
carried out in Singapore. Since 1994 Amnesty International has recorded more
than 170 executions in the city-state which has a population of only three
million. Most of the executions are believed to have been for drug-trafficking.
There are fears that the true number of executions may be significantly higher
as the Singapore authorities do not publish statistics on the use of the death
penalty. Execution is by hanging.
The death penalty is mandatory for drug-trafficking, murder, treason and certain
firearms offences. It is not known how many prisoners are currently under
sentence of death.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- urging the authorities to commute the death sentence passed on Lim Chin Chong;
- expressing unconditional opposition to the death penalty as a violation of
one of the most fundamental of human rights - the right to life;
- expressing deep concern at the high rate of executions in Singapore and calling
for all pending death sentences to be commuted;
- recognizing the need to combat murder and drug abuse, but emphasizing that
there is no proof that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than
other punishments and appealing to the authorities to find a more humane way
of tackling these crimes.
His Excellency Ong Teng Cheong
Office of the President
Istana, Orchard Road
Republic of Singapore 0922
Telegrams: President Ong Teng Cheong, Singapore
Faxes: +65 738 4673