Amnesty pleads with Singapore to stop execution of Nigerian Obioha billed for tomorrow
Amnesty International has called on Singapore to immediately halt the planned execution of Chijoke Stephen Obioha, a Nigerian national on death row for possession of drugs. Obioha's family was informed that his appeal for clemency has been rejected. He is set to be executed tomorrow.
Rafendi Djamin, Amnesty International's Director for South-East Asia and the Pacific, said: “The Singapore government still has time to halt the execution of Chijoke Stephen Obioha. We are dismayed that clemency has not been granted in his case, but remain hopeful that they won't carry out this cruel and irreversible punishment against a person sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for a crime that should not even be punished by death.
“The death penalty is never the solution. It will not rid Singapore of drugs. By executing people for drug-related offences, which do not meet the threshold of most serious crimes, Singapore is violating international law. Most of the world has turned its back on this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It is about time that Singapore does the same, starting by restoring a moratorium on all executions as a first step towards abolition of this punishment.”
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all circumstances, regardless of the method of execution or the crime for which it is imposed, and believes that there is no credible evidence that the death penalty has a unique deterrent effect.
Obioha is set to be executed in Singapore on November 18, Amnesty International reported on Thursday.
Mr. Obioha was sentenced to death on December 30, 2008 after being arrested on April 9, 2007 for the possession of cannabis. He was found with over 2.6 kilograms of cannabis, an offense which, under Singapore law, mandates the death penalty.
Mr. Obioha appealed his sentence in August 2010, maintaining his innocence, but the court refused to commute his death penalty down to a prison sentence.
According to Amnesty International, in Singapore, the burden of proof lies on the defendant rather than the prosecutor. The human rights organization explained that this is a violation of the right to a fair trial.
He has since filed an appeal to clemency. Amnesty International is urging human rights activists to petition the Singapore government to grant Mr. Obioha clemency.
The press statement reads in part:
“The execution of Nigerian national Chijioke Stephen Obioha has been set for 18 November. He was convicted of drug trafficking in Singapore and was given the mandatory death sentence. A new clemency application is pending before the President.
“The family of Chijioke Stephen Obioha, a Nigerian national convicted of and given the mandatory death sentence for possession of drugs for the purpose of trafficking on 30 December 2008, have been informed that 18 November is Chijoke's new execution date. On 9 April 2007 Chijoke was found in possession of more than 2.6 kilograms of cannabis, surpassing the statutory amount of 500 grams that under Singapore law triggers the automatic presumption of trafficking. Also in his possession were keys to a room containing additional prohibited substances, leading the authorities to presume him guilty of possession and knowledge of the drugs.
“Chijioke Stephen Obioha's appeal against his conviction and sentence was rejected in August 2010. Maintaining his innocence of the crime, Chijoke initially refused to make use of his right to resentencing which amendments to Singapore mandatory's death penalty laws made in 2013 allowed for. In Singapore, when there is a presumption of drug possession and trafficking, the burden of proof shifts to the defendant. This is a violation of fair trial rights, specifically the presumption of innocence.
“After the rejection of his clemency appeal in April 2015, his execution was set for 15 May 2015. It was stayed a day earlier to allow him to apply for resentencing. His family were only informed on 25 October 2016 that he had resolved to withdraw his application for re-sentencing earlier in the year, following legal advice that he would not qualify as “courier” under the amended laws.
“Consequently, the Court of Appeal lifted the stay of execution with effect from 24 October, resulting in the execution date to be set for 18 November. Chijioke Stephen Obioha appealed once again for clemency for the President, who has the power to commute his death sentence.”