MHA to review process of notifying clemency outcome, execution date for prisoners

MHA to review process of notifying clemency outcome, execution date for prisoners

File photo of Supreme Court exterior 1
File photo of the Supreme Court which is made up of the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is reviewing the procedure which notifies death row inmates of their clemency outcome and execution date, following a decision by the Court of Appeal in May to grant a Malaysian prisoner a stay of execution.

“We are reviewing the procedure, in particular to notify the prisoner and the petitioner of the clemency outcome some time in advance of the notification of the execution date,” wrote Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, in response to a question in Parliament on Monday (Jul 8).

READ: Clemency petitions for Malaysian on death row 'carefully considered': MHA

READ: Malaysian on death row in Singapore for drug trafficking granted stay of execution

Mr Shanmugam was replying to Workers’ Party Member of Parliament (MP) Sylvia Lim about whether it is usual for the prisoner and his family to receive both the reply from the President’s office on clemency and the notice of execution date from the Singapore Prison Service at the same time.

The minister said that this has been the procedure since 2016.

Replying to CNA’s queries, MHA said that the review, which is ongoing, began in May 2019 following the Court of Appeal’s decision on Pannir Selvam Pranthaman’s case.

Malaysian Pannir Selvam, 31, was found guilty of carrying 51.84g of heroin at Woodlands Checkpoint in September 2014.

He was granted a stay of execution just a day before he was due to be executed.

Pannir Selvam and his family were notified in letters that the President had rejected his clemency petition and the scheduled date of his execution, just a week in advance of his execution.

Chief Justice Sundraresh Menon said that Pannir Selvam should “have a reasonable opportunity to take advice on whether he can mount a successful challenge”.

During the hearing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Francis Ng "candidly" acknowledged that this would not have given Pannir Selvam much time to obtain advice on any options he had to appeal the execution of the sentence, said Chief Justice Menon.

READ: 'Not tenable' for Singapore to go easy on Malaysian drug offenders: Shanmugam

READ: Malaysian minister denies interfering with Singapore court case on death row inmate 

In her question, Ms Lim also asked what the median and average time was from the final appellate court decision to the date of hanging when a person is sentenced to death.

She also asked whether there were "guidelines as to the time within which Cabinet advice should be rendered to the President and for the President's Office to reply to the petitioner". 

In his written answer, Mr Shanmugam said: "The median and average time from the final appellate court decision to the date of execution is around one year, for executions in recent years." 

He added that each clemency petition is carefully considered on its own merits.

“There is no expressly stipulated timeline by which Cabinet’s advice should be rendered to the President or by which the President’s office should reply to the petitioner," the minister said.

Source: CNA/ad(mi)

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