Indian migrant worker facing execution

Posted by under Human Rights Watch on 20 June 2003

Indian migrant worker, Arunprakash Vaithilingam, facing execution in Singapore. Please appeal to His Excellency S R Nathan, President of Singapore, to commute the sentence. The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It violates the right to life. It is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent. It has never been shown to deter crime more effectively than other punishments.

Death Penalty

SINGAPORE: Arunprakash Vaithilingam (m), aged 24, Indian national

Indian national Arunprakash Vaithilingam is facing execution after his death sentence was confirmed in February 2003. Arunprakash Vaithilingam was sentenced to death in December 2002 after being convicted of the murder of his room-mate, who was stabbed to death during a drunken argument.

Arunprakash Vaithilingam, a migrant worker from Tamil Nadu, India, went to work in Singapore as a ship's electrician in December 2000. In December 2001, his room-mate, also an Indian national, was stabbed to death with a knife. Arunprakash Vaithilingam was arrested and charged with murder. At his trial, he stated that he had not intended to kill his room-mate and that initially he did not even realize he had stabbed him. He and several friends who had witnessed the argument immediately rushed the wounded man to hospital, but he was pronounced dead shortly afterwards. Despite eyewitness evidence, the Singapore High Court found Arunprakash Vaithilingam guilty of murder, an offence which carries a mandatory death sentence.

Arunprakash Vaithilingam's relatives have petitioned the President of Singapore, who has the power to grant clemency. Amnesty International understands that petitions for clemency are due to be examined by the beginning of August. According to a report in the Indian newspaper The Hindu, the Indian Government has also intervened on his behalf, requesting the Singapore authorities to commute his death sentence to life imprisonment.


The death penalty is mandatory in Singapore for murder, drug trafficking, treason and certain firearms offences.

Singapore, with a population of just over four million, is believed to have one of the highest per capita rates of executions in the world. Government figures show that out of 340 people executed between 1991 and 2000, 89 were executed for murder. Between 1996 and 2000, over half those executed for murder were foreign nationals. Executions are by hanging and take place on Friday mornings at dawn. Families of convicts are normally only informed of the impending execution one week beforehand. There is virtually no public debate about the use of the death penalty in the country.

Human rights organizations and 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 inflicted. Studies have shown that it is more likely to be imposed on those who are poorer, less educated and more vulnerable than average. The death penalty is irrevocable, yet the risk of error in applying it is inescapable. While Amnesty International recognizes the need to combat violent crime, there is no convincing evidence that the death penalty deters crime more effectively than other punishments.


Write letters before 01 August to the Singapore authorities expressing your concern about Arunprakash Vaithilngam who is facing the execution and urge the authorities to stop implementing the death penalty that violates the people's right to life. Sample letter and contact details are provided below.


His Excellency S R Nathan
President of the Republic of Singapore
Orchard Road Singapore 238823
Telegraphic Address : PRISEC
Fax : 65 - 67353135


Your Excellency

Re: SINGAPORE: Indian national facing execution in Singapore

Mr. President, I urge you to act decisively to commute death sentence passed on Indian national Arunprakash Vaithilngam to life imprisonment.

The death penalty is a violation of the right to life, one of the most fundamental human rights. I understand that it needs to combat violent crime. However, the death penalty has never been shown to have a unique deterrent effect and is brutalizing to all involved. If the execution is carried out, it will only cause more suffering for the relatives of Arunprakash Vaithilingam.

Yours sincerely

S R Nathan
President of the Republic of Singapore
Orchard Road Singapore 238823
Telegraphic: PRISEC
Fax : 65 - 67353135

Send Copies to:
Prof S Jayakumar
Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Law
100 High Street
The Treasury #08-02
Singapore 179434
CS E-Mail : GVT 044
Fax: 65 6332 8842 or 65 - 64747885

and to diplomatic representatives of Singapore accredited to your country.

Urgent Appeals were released by Amnesty International AI Index: ASA 36/001/2003 and Asian Human Rights Commission UA-24-2003

Sources and Links

Agence France Presse Arunprakash Vaithilingam: Indian worker hanged in Singapore for murder 3 October 2003

Asian Human Rights Commission Urgent Appeal

AI Singapore: Further information on Death penalty, Arunprakash Vaithilingam
26 September 2003

07 June 2003 The Hindu India seeks clemency for youth on death row in Singapore

Think Centre Death Penalty in Singapore

Amnesty International AI Report 2003: Singapore 2002

Amnesty International Death Penalty

Show some love,

Back to Previous Page