Blatant deception and illegality by the Singapore authorities with barbaric, unlawful execution methods.
A Malaysian NGO has claimed that the brutal and unlawful hanging methods in Singapore’s Changi Prison, where many Malaysians convicted on drug charges await their death sentences, include kicks to snap prisoners’ necks.
Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) advisor N Surendran said they have revealed parts of this information to the public last November and wrote to the Singaporean authorities. However, their disclosures were met by silence from the republic’s government.
“They have also not denied our allegation of brutality in carrying out hangings,” Surendran said in a statement today.
“We are compelled to disclose some details of the brutal hanging method so that the ensuing public scrutiny will bring an end these methods,” he said.
Surendran said the information was disclosed to them by a Singapore Prison Services officer who had served at the execution chamber in Changi Prison and who had himself carried out hangings.
The officer, Surendran said, was prepared to testify in an appropriate forum.
He also said that in the event of the rope breaking during a hanging, officers are supposed to follow these orders;
1) The prison officer is instructed to pull the rope around the neck of the prisoner towards him.
2) Another prison officer will apply pressure by pulling the body in the opposite direction.
3) The first officer must then kick the back of the neck of the prisoner with great force to break it.
4) The officers are told to kick the back of the neck because that would be consistent with death by hanging.
5) The officers are told not to kick more than twice so that there will be no tell-tale marks in case there is an autopsy.
6) Strict orders are also given not to divulge the above to other prison staff not involved in executions.
Surendran said they were informed that prison officers were given special training to carry out this execution method.
“This execution method is unlawful as the mode of execution prescribed by law is hanging by the neck, and not execution by kicking of the neck.
“Every death row prisoner in Changi, including Malaysians, are in danger of suffering this excruciating death should the rope break during the hanging,” he said.
It is particularly disturbing, he said, that this was being done surreptitiously with specific measures adopted to ensure nothing incriminating could be revealed during a subsequent autopsy.
“This is blatant deception and illegality by the Singapore authorities.
“It is a flagrant breach of Article 9 of the Singapore Constitution, the effect of which is to prohibit cruel and unusual punishments,” Surendran said.
He further alleged that this could not have been done without the knowledge and approval of the home minister and government of Singapore.
“At this point, we cannot say how many Malaysians or other nationals have been executed in Changi prison by this horrendous method. Only the Singapore government has that information,” he said.
Surendran said they are revealing these details to push the Singapore authorities to respond to these revelations.
The Singapore government should immediately impose a moratorium on all executions in Singapore pending investigations or a commission of inquiry into this matter, he added.
They also want Singapore to provide a copy of the findings to Malaysia, as many Malaysians have been executed in Changi Prison or are facing executions, as well as to reveal the number and identities of Malaysian prisoners who were executed using this method.
LFL also urged the Singapore government to compensate families for the unlawful execution of their loved ones.
“The Malaysian government should take urgent steps to protect the safety and basic rights of all Malaysian prisoners on death row in Singapore,” Surendran said.
LFL first alluded to these claims in November, after Singapore proceeded with the execution of Malaysian drug mule Abd Helmi Ab Halim for trafficking 16g of heroin.
Surendran and his group had represented Abd Helmi and clashed repeatedly with Singapore in their bid to prevent the execution.