Action for Tochi, Chee Siok Chin, 23 Jan 07

As some of you may have known, 21 year-old Iwuchkwu Amara Tochi, a Nigerian national will be hanged by the Singapore authorities this Friday 26 January 2007.

Our president, Mr. SR Nathan, has refused to grant clemency to this young man. This is perhaps not surprising as Mr. Nathan has never granted clemency to any prisoner on the death row since his presidency in 1999.

However, the greater tragedy in this case lies in the fact that the president will not spare the life of an innocent man. After a 13-day trial, High Court Judge Kan Ting Chui pronounced that “there was no evidence he (Tochi) knew the capsule contained diamorphine”. In addition to that the judge had said, “there is nothing to suggest that Smith had told him (Tochi) they contained diamorphine, or that (Tochi) had found that out of his own.”

And yet, despite this lack of evidence that Tochi knew that he had drugs on him, the Supreme Court has sentenced him to death. When Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong took over office last year, he had said, “Let me emphasise that the strict, but fair and efficient administration of criminal justice, will remain a key priority…I intend to set up a panel to review how current sentencing and bail guidelines can be further rationalized and improved.” Where lies the rationale for a man to be sentenced to death when the CJ’s own colleague in the High Court even doubted Tochi knew he had drugs on him?

This cold-blooded and mindless act by the Singapore Government must at least rouse the conscience of the people. If we remain silent, are we not accomplices of this horrible execution? Some of us are moved to act when we witness injustice at its gravest. This is why we have decided to demonstrate our outrage publicly to bring attention to this tragic matter.

Human rights lawyer Mr M Ravi, who has been campaigning tirelessly for Tochi, and I will join a 24-hour hunger strike launched by European Member of Parliament Marco Panella to support the campaign currently taking place in Italy, calling for a worldwide Moratorium on Death Penalty. To sign the Moratorium, please go here.

Mr. Ravi and I will be at Speakers’ Corner from 7am on Thursday 25 January and will go on a fast to register our outrage and to keep vigil with Tochi. We will then proceed to the grounds outside Changi Prison after 7pm to continue with this until his execution at 6am on 26 January.

As a mark of support and solidarity for an innocent man whose life will be taken from him in a few days from now, please join us at the Speakers’ Corner (Thu 25 Jan, 7 am–7 pm) and Changi Prison (7 pm onwards).

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