A candelit Vigil will be held on May 6th, 7 pm at the Furama City Centre Hotel organized by the Think Centre. All are welcome.
The evening will involve a series of candlelit music, performances and readings by concerned, non-partisan individuals as an expression of our 3C's:"Compassion", "Care", & "Concern" over the death penalty ruling for Shanmugam Murgesu and those on death-row.
Organized by: Think Centre - Concerned Civil Society Initiatives
Come to the vigil, light a candle and sign a petition calling on the government to declare an immediate moratorium on the death Penalty. Save the life of Shanmugam and those on the death-row.
If you cannot make it to the vigil, all are encouraged, wherever you are, to Light a Candle or shine a torch on the night of May 6th as a symbol of life "Jeeva Jhoti"
Twins Gopalan and Krishnan Murugesu, 14, distributed flyers detailing their fathers Shanmugam's plight. They plea for help to save their father, Shanmugam Murugesu, from being executed after he was convicted and sentenced to hang last April for drug trafficking. They collected signature for a petition against the execution, saying their father's death would make them orphans. The petition has been submitted to the president requesting the death sentence be commuted to imprisonment.
Shanmugram Murugesu, a Singaporean, 38, was arrested on the 29 August 2003 at Tuas Checkpoint. A search was conducted on his motorcycle and was found to contain 6 packets of cannabis.
The 6 packets of cannabis contain 1,029.8 grams of cannabis, and 880.89 grams of cannabis mixture. At the trial the prosecution proceeded on a capital charge of importing 1029.8 grams (nett) of cannabis under s.7 of the Misuse of Drugs Act, Cap. 185.
After the trial at the High Court in April 2004, he was convicted as charged and sentenced to suffer death. His appeal against conviction and sentence of death was heard in the Court of Appeal on 26/10/2004. The appeal was dismissed.
Shanmugum had served in the Singapore Armed Forces for 8 years and in other government sectors like the Singapore Sports Council for another 4 years. He had also represented Singapore in water sports events like the 1995 World Championship Jetski Finals in Lake Havasu, Arizona, USA.
Before his arrest, Shanmugram worked as a taxi driver and a free-lance window cleaner to support his sons and mother. He also contributed income to his sister and her 3 children. He did not have any previous convictions except for a minor traffic offence. After his divorce in 2002, he was awarded custody of his twin sons, now aged 14. After the divorce he had lost interest in life and became a victim of drug abuse.
Shanmugam come from a poor Indian family and had a younger sister and a younger brother. His sister is divorced and has 3 children and his brother is a police officer attached to the Marine Police. He was in desperate financial circumstance which led him to commit the offence. The financial burdens on him were heavy as he had to look after the financial needs of his sons, nieces, nephews and mother. His parents were divorced and the mother who is in her 60's, is in poor health. She is unable to work and is financially supported by him and the brother. Since his arrest, the mother has been looking after the sons who are both studying in secondary three.
April 26, the Singapore's President rejected the plea for clemency. Shanmugam's mother appealed for public help to save her son. His twin sons have plea with the plea to help save their father's life.
Call for immediate moratorium on the death penalty
We believe any humane criminal justice system could not continue to justify the retention of the death penalty based on retribution. The eradication of the supply of the drugs is important but equally important is the alleviation of the social conditions that encourage would-be traffickers or addicts. The socially excluded young and poor are the most affected and drug addictions is also increasing among the young middle-class, drug-related offenders have formed about 55% of the prison population. Are we assisting the excluded and young to reintegrate into society or are we disposing them off as rejects?
We believe that the abolition of the death penalty contributes to enhancement of human dignity and progressive development of human rights. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted on 10 December 1948, and article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted on 16 December 1966 refers to the abolition of the death penalty. International documents have restricted and in some cases even banned the death penalty, calling for the abolition of death penalty.
The Singapore government has ignored the UN Special Rapporteurs recommendation of 1996."The Special Rapporteur wishes to reiterate his call on the Government of Singapore to change its Drug Act so as to bring it into line with international standards. The Special Rapporteur considers that the Misuse of Drug Act, which partially shifts the burden of proof to the accused, does not provide sufficient guarantees for the presumption of innocence and may lead to violations of the right to life when the crime of drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence."
"An immutable fact remains that the loss of life is irreversible and judicial error irreparable. A wide range of experts in sciences such as criminology, sociology and psychology have expressed doubts concerning the deterrent effect of capital punishment. Therefore, Governments of countries in which the death penalty is still enforced are urged to deploy every effort that could lead to its abolition, the desirability of which has repeatedly been affirmed by the General Assembly."
Think Centre's call to right to life in connection with capital punishment is guided by the desirability of abolition of the death penalty which has been expressed on numerous occasions by the UN General Assembly, the Human Rights Committee, the Economic and Social Council and Security Council[ in its resolutions 808 (1993) of 22 February 1993 and 955 (1994) of 8 November 1994]
We bring to your attention that in Singapore drug trafficking carries a mandatory death sentence and is inconsistent with the criteria of absolute necessity and proportionality.
< Sources and Relevant Links:
Think Centre Death Penalty: SAVE THE LIFE OF SHANMUGAM MURUGESU
Today Online Was innocent man hanged due to procedure? 27 September 2003
Straits Times Interactive Death penalty: The Unconstitutional Punishment 8 August 2003
Aliran Is Capital Punishment Justified? Mistakes can and have been made and, in maintaining the death sentence, innocent people will be killed
Think Centre Death Penalty Case Gets an Airing in Parliament 19 July 2001