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MHA refutes Malaysian NGO's allegations on S'pore executions

MHA refutes Malaysian NGO's allegations on S'pore executions

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 23 Jan 2020

Correction orders under fake news law issued against 4 parties.

Photo credit: Gov.sg 

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has refuted Malaysia-based non-governmental organisation Lawyers for Liberty's (LFL) allegations about Singapore's execution method, saying the claims were "untrue, baseless and preposterous".

It also invoked the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma) and ordered LFL and three parties that have shared the allegations - Singaporean activist Kirsten Han, The Online Citizen website and Yahoo Singapore - to correct the false statements.

This is the fifth case where Pofma has been invoked since it came into effect on Oct 2 last year.

Last Thursday, LFL said in a statement that Singapore prison officers were instructed to kick the back of a prisoner's neck with great force to break it, if the rope breaks during a hanging, and that the Singapore Government approved of "unlawful methods" that are used to cover up an execution if the rope breaks.

"These allegations are entirely unfounded," MHA said yesterday.

Singapore executes its condemned prisoners by hanging. The ministry said that all judicial executions in Singapore are carried out in strict compliance with the law.

"All judicial executions are conducted in the presence of the Superintendent of the Prison and a medical doctor, among others. The law also requires a coroner (who is a judicial officer of the State Courts) to conduct an inquiry within 24 hours of the execution to satisfy himself that the execution was carried out duly and properly," MHA said.

"For the record, the rope used for judicial executions has never broken before, and prison officers certainly do not receive any 'special training to carry out the brutal execution method' as alleged. Any acts such as those described in the LFL statement would have been thoroughly investigated and dealt with."

The ministry said LFL has a history of publishing sensational and untrue stories to seek attention in the hope of getting Malaysian prisoners who have been convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in Singapore off the death penalty.

"Those who traffic drugs in Singapore harm and destroy the lives of countless Singaporeans. These traffickers must be prepared to face the consequences of their actions," MHA said.

Yesterday, MHA also said it has instructed the Pofma office to issue correction directions against LFL, as well as three other parties: Ms Han's Facebook post which shared LFL's statement, The Online Citizen which has an article that contained the falsehoods, and Yahoo Singapore's Facebook post which shared an article that contained the falsehoods.

"They will be required to carry a correction notice alongside their posts or articles stating that their posts or articles contain falsehoods," MHA said.

Ms Han said in a Facebook post yesterday that she had sent questions to the Singapore Prison Service about the claims made by LFL, but did not receive a response.

She appended the correction notice to her post yesterday afternoon; she also raised concerns over how this affects the ability of journalists, activists and citizens to follow up on allegations.

"In the interests of dealing with 'fake news', I hope that government and public agencies can be more responsive to queries from journalists and/or civil society groups when they are seeking information that can clarify matters," she said.

Separately, The Online Citizen said it has filed an application to the Minister for Home Affairs to cancel the correction direction it received.

LFL said it will not comply with the correction notice and demanded that the notice be "unconditionally withdrawn with immediate effect".

It says it stands by its original statement, which is based on evidence from "former and current Singapore prison officers... with impeccable service records". It added that it is "outrageous and unacceptable" for Singapore to issue such a notice to a Malaysian organisation.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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