In 2005, at 20 years old, Hoo Yew Wah was arrested for possession of 188.35 grams of methamphetamine. He was later taken to a police station, where police broke his finger, threatened to beat his girlfriend, and was made to make a statement without a lawyer present. He also made the statement in, his mother tongue, which the police wrote down in Malay.
Yew Wah contested this statement in court, noting inaccuracies and threats, but the judge dismissed these claims without ordering an investigation.
Yew Wah was automatically presumed to be guilty of drug trafficking – and was given the mandatory sentence of death.
He has now been on death row at Bentong prison since 2011. Since 2014, his judicial appeals have failed and his petition for a pardon has been pending.
Like all others on death row, he is not at imminent risk of execution since the government has established a nation-wide moratorium on executions in July 2018 – but he remains in limbo.
Hoo Yew Wah’s case illustrates the many violations of international human rights law and standards associated with the use of the death penalty in Malaysia. These include lack of adequate and timely legal assistance, concerns of torture and other ill-treatment during police interrogation, the reliance on statements or information obtained without a lawyer present, the presumption of guilt in cases of drug trafficking, secretive pardon processes and the extensive use of this punishment for offences that do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” or intentional killing to which the death penalty must be restricted under international law.
Please write immediately in Chinese, English, Malay or your own language urging Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar, Sultan of Johor State, to grant clemency to Hoo Yew Wah.