Death Penalty Watch – Singaporean, Fajar Taslim & Ghanaian, Stephen Obioha

4 Jan

Just three days into 2009, the Indonesian and Singaporean authorities have or are sentencing two men to death.

35 year old Mohammad Hassan Saynudin, also known as Fajar Taslim, was captured in South Sumatra for allegedly being involved in Jemaah Islamiah’s terrorism activities. If found guilty, he is likely to be executed under current Indonesian anti-terrorism laws.

Chijioke Stephen Obioha, a 20 year old Ghanaian, has been sentenced to death in Singapore for possessing 2.6 kilograms (5.73 pounds) of cannabis. Entering the country with a hope to play football, he however, ended up as a middle man for electronic goods. Stephen was arrested in April 2007 for drug charges after a surveillance operation.

Given that both the governments of Singapore and Indonesia adopt a zero tolerance approach owards terrorism and capital punishment, it is unlikely that Taslim would either receive a fair trial and henceforth avoid the death penalty.

Nevertheless, the Singapore government needs to protect the rights and welfare of its own citizens. It needs to ensure that Taslim’s legal rights are respected during his trial. Since the Singapore government does not mete out the death penalty for alleged terrorism activities, it should also diplomatically request the Indonesian authorities to extradite Taslim back to Singapore. Such an act would save the man from the gallows.

Similarly, anti-death penalty activists in Singapore must also campaign against the sentence of Stephen Obioha.

Given the scant information available on both cases, mitigating circumstances might have contributed to the accused of landing in their current precarious situation.

– References –

1. ‘Singaporean faces terror trial in Jakarta’, The Straits Times, 3 January 2009.

2. ‘Singapore sentences Ghanaian drug trafficker to death: report’, AFP, 3 January 2009.

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