Tuesday, 17 March 2015

S'pore's top court rules caning constitutional

Singapore Defends Caning
City-state refutes international criticism following court decision last week

Singapore is defending last week’s court decision calling for two German men to be caned, rejecting criticism that the punishment constitutes torture. The men were convicted of vandalizing a public train carriage and repeatedly trespassing into a high-security depot.

Last Thursday, Andreas Von Knorre, 22, and Elton Hinz, 21, were sentenced to nine months in jail and three strokes of the cane after pleading guilty to committing the offenses last year. They had initially left Singapore but were eventually arrested in Malaysia and extradited back to the city-state. Following the decision, Phil Robertson, deputy-director of the Asia division of Human Rights Watch, criticized the judiciary’s “shameful recourse” to using torture, calling the decision indicative of a “blatant disregard for international human rights standards.” “Every day that Singapore keeps caning on its books is a dark day for the country’s international reputation,” Robertson told Reuters in an email.

Caning in Singapore involves being struck by a rattan stick, which results in excruciating pain and can leave significant physical damage.

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S'pore's top court rules caning constitutional

Singapore's highest court ruled Wednesday that the caning of convicted prisoners is constitutional, rejecting an argument that it amounts to torture, local press reported.

The Court of Appeal dismissed a challenge brought by convicted drug courier Yong Vui Kong, who had his death sentence changed to life in prison and 15 strokes of the cane in November 2013.

Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon, in delivering the court's decision, said the common law prohibition on torture only applies to the torture of suspects or witnesses for the purpose of extracting information and does not cover the treatment of criminals after they have been found guilty, The Straits Times newspaper reported.

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Caning is constitutional, Court of Appeal rules in drug trafficker's case
Malaysian drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong's death sentence was commuted to a life term and 15 strokes of the cane in November 2013. -- PHOTO: CNB

Caning of convicted prisoners is constitutional, the Court of Appeal ruled on Wednesday, dismissing a challenge by Malaysian drug trafficker Yong Vui Kong against the legality of the punishment.

The decision by the three-judge court is the latest chapter in the long-running case of 26-year-old Yong, who had made several bids to quash his original death sentence for trafficking 47g of heroin in 2008.

In November 2013, Yong's death sentence was commuted to a life term and 15 strokes of the cane, making him the first drug trafficker to be spared the death penalty under new laws giving judges wider sentencing discretion.

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Singapore to cane and jail two Germans for vandalism
Hinz (R) had entered the depot together with Von Knorre in November

Two German men have been sentenced to three strokes of a cane and nine months in jail in Singapore for vandalism and trespassing.

Andreas Von Knorre and Elton Hinz pleaded guilty to entering a train depot and spraying graffiti on a train.

Singapore has strict laws on vandalism, and has caned and jailed foreigners in the past for the offence

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9 months’ jail and three strokes’ caning for train vandals

The two Germans who trespassed into Bishan Depot last November and vandalised an SMRT train have been sentenced to nine months’ jail and three strokes’ caning each.

Andreas Von Knorres, 22, and Elton Hinz, 21, were found guilty of vandalising the train in the wee hours of the morning on Nov 8 last year. They were also convicted of unauthorised entry to the depot on Nov 7 and Nov 8 last year.

The duo were reportedly arrested at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on Nov 14 last year, with the help of Malaysian police, and have been in remand in Singapore since Nov 22.

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Apex court dismisses constitutionality challenge against caning

In delivering the decision to dismiss the appeal on Wednesday (March 4), Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon said that there were safeguards in place to ensure that the present practice of caning in Singapore “does not reach a high threshold of severity and brutality that is required for it to be regarded as torture”.

He also listed and elaborated on the grounds given for the appeal, as well as reasons for the decision derived from past written judgements.

After the sentencing Mr Ravi told reporters that it was a “black day”, and said that he will be speaking with the Malaysian High Commissioner on Wednesday to go to the International Court of Justice to apply for a stay order on the execution of the judgement.

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Singapore rejects criticism that caning is 'torture'

Singapore on Monday defended a court order for two German men to be caned for spray-painting a metro train and trespassing into a high-security depot, rejecting claims the punishment amounts to torture.

A court in the city-state, which takes a hardline stance against vandalism, last week sentenced Andreas Von Knorre, 22, and Elton Hinz, 21, to nine months in prison and three strokes of the cane over the incident in November last year.

US-based Human Rights Watch has slammed Singapore's continued use of caning -- a punishment dating back to British colonial rule -- as a "shameful recourse to using torture".

Two Germans to plead guilty in Singapore vandalism case
German vandals ordered jailed, caned in S'pore

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Same standards for everyone, says AGC of caning
Andreas Von Knorre (left) and Elton Hinz allegedly sprayed graffiti on an SMRT train at the Bishan depot between 2.48am and 3.29am on Nov 8

The Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) has responded to criticism over the caning sentence meted out to the two German men who vandalised a train after sneaking into the SMRT Bishan depot.

Stressing that Singapore's laws against vandalism are well known, an AGC spokesman said the same standards are applied to everyone.

The spokesman also highlighted the seriousness of the crimes, adding: "They came to a foreign country, repeatedly trespassed into security sensitive areas and deliberately flouted our laws."

German vandals ordered jailed, caned in Singapore
Germans who vandalised MRT train in Bishan depot get 9 months jail, 3 strokes each
2 German citizens charged for vandalism at SMRT Bishan depot

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Caning an effective deterrent

THOSE who are against corporal punishment, such as caning, say it is inhumane to physically torture a person by inflicting excruciating pain on his body ("Same standards for everyone, says AGC of caning"; Sunday).

But it is an effective deterrent to keep crime levels low, and should remain a part of our penal system.

Even some netizens from Britain and Australia have voiced support for Singapore's tough stand on vandalism, an offence for which caning can be meted out.

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Caning in Singapore
A soldier receiving corporal punishment

Corporal punishment with a rattan cane is a prominent and long-standing feature of Singapore life.
There are five different types of caning in Singapore. All but one of these apply to males only and are administered to the posterior.
  • Judicial caning, ordered by a court as a sentence for certain crimes as laid down in Singapore legislation. It is seen as an effective deterrent for certain kinds of offence. It is always combined with a prison sentence. It is always carried out privately in prison.
  • Prison caning, for prisoners who break internal prison rules. Also used at Drug Rehabilitation Centres.
  • Military caning, for members of the Singapore Armed Forces who break military rules.
  • School caning, for disobedient schoolboys, inflicted by the school's Principal, Discipline Master or Operations Manager.
  • Institutional caning is administered in remand homes, approved schools and homes (notably the Singapore Boys' Home), hostels, etc. This is the only kind of caning that may be applied to females.
Judicial and prison canings are applied to the bare buttocks. Military caning is applied to the buttocks through a special cloth guard to reduce bleeding. School caning is delivered to the seat of the boy's ordinary school uniform trousers, or at some schools he has to change into PE shorts with no underpants to receive the punishment. Institutional caning is administered to the seat of the trousers (boys) or to the hand (girls).

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Real photos of a Singapore caning

No, these are not from a sicko snuff movie. This is what happens if you chew gum in Singapore. (Not really; the canee was convicted of rape, and this is just part of his punishment.) An interesting glimpse into an aspect of the culture here that is so different from anything we know back home….

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Caning: corporal punishment in Singapore (Graphic)

Singaporean law allows caning to be ordered for over 30 offences, including hostage-taking, robbery, gang robbery with murder, drug use, vandalism, and rioting. Caning is also a mandatory punishment for certain offences such as rape, drug trafficking, illegal money-lending, and for visiting foreigners who overstay their visa by more than 90 days, a measure designed to deter illegal immigrant workers.

Caning is in practice always ordered in addition to a jail sentence and never as a punishment by itself. It is administered in an enclosed area in the prison, out of view of the public and other inmates. Those present are limited to the inmate, prison wardens, medical officers, the caning officer and sometimes high-ranking prison officials to witness the punishment.

An inmate sentenced to caning receives no advance warning as to when he will be caned, and is notified only on the day his sentence is to be carried out. In the caning room, the inmate is ordered to strip naked and receives a medical examination by the prison doctor to check whether he is medically fit for caning, by measuring his blood pressure and other physical conditions. If the doctor gives the green light, the inmate then receives his caning, but if he is certified unfit for punishment, he is sent back to the court for his prison term to be increased instead. A prison official confirms with him the number of strokes he is to receive.

The inmate is then led to the A-shaped frame (called a "caning trestle") and his wrists and ankles secured tightly to the frame by strong leather straps in such a way that he assumes a bent-over position on the frame at an angle of close to 90° at the hip, with his posterior protruding. Protective padding is placed on his lower back to protect the vulnerable kidney and lower spine area from any mis-strokes so that only his buttocks are exposed to the cane. The officer administering the caning takes up position beside the frame and delivers the number of strokes specified in the sentence, at intervals of 10 to 15 seconds. He is required to put his full force into each stroke. The strokes are administered all in one caning session, unless the medical officer certifies that the inmate cannot receive any more strokes because of his condition, in which case the rest of the strokes are converted to additional prison time.

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Caning in Singapore

Caning is a widely used form of legal corporal punishment in Singapore. It can be divided into several contexts: judicial, prison, reformatory, military, school, and domestic or private. These practices of caning are largely a legacy of, and are influenced by, British colonial rule in Singapore.

Of these, judicial caning, for which Singapore is best known, is the most severe. It is reserved for male convicts under the age of 50, for a wide range of offences under the Criminal Procedure Code, and is also used as a disciplinary measure in prisons. Caning is also a legal form of punishment for delinquent servicemen in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and is conducted in the SAF Detention Barracks. Caning is also used as an official punishment in reform schools.

In a milder form, caning is used to punish male students in primary and secondary schools for serious misbehaviour. The government encourages this but does not allow caning for female students, who instead receive alternative forms of punishment such as detention.

A much smaller cane or other implement is also used by some parents to punish their children for misbehaving. This is allowed in Singapore but not encouraged by the government.

related: Michael P. Fay

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