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Human Rights Groups Condemn Sentencing People To Death Via Zoom

Man Crying Image Iwaria

The outbreak of coronavirus has led to different activities and businesses being carried out virtually. The legal system is not left out of this.

Court cases have been done virtually via zoom. While the world is shifting to the use of online media, some activities are meant to be done with witnesses and the public.

The use of zoom to sentence people to death has been vehemently condemned by human rights groups. This was done in Nigeria and Singapore.

Singapore government constantly states it has zero tolerance for drugs.

Punithan Genasan, 37, was sentenced to death for his part in a drug deal nine years ago and is the first time the death sentence has been handed out remotely in Singapore according to The Mirror Online.

Genansan was found guilty of hiring two couriers to transport 63lbs of heroin into Singapore in 2011.

He reportedly agreed to pay the first courier £1,300 and arrange for a second courier to receive the packages of drugs. However, authorities uncovered the scheme during the first shipment.

However, the debt collector Genasan insisted he was innocent and that he did not know either of the men.

The judge ruled he was lying when he couldn’t explain how both the couriers could recall personal information about him and sentenced him to death.

This was also a case in Nigeria when Hameed had been convicted of the murder of his employer’s mother, a charge he had vehemently denied.

All the lawyers, including Hameed’s defense solicitor, appeared before the court virtually, unable to be there in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hameed had pleaded not guilty to killing 76-year-old Jolasun Okunsanya in December 2018.

The three-hour hearing ended when Judge Mojisola Dada, in Lagos, Nigeria, sentenced him to death via Zoom earlier this month.

The actions have been widely condemned by human rights groups, who have questioned why the sentencing could not have been delayed until the Covid-19 crisis was over.

Amnesty International Nigeria Director Osai Ojigho said:

We know many courts are exploring how they can continue cases virtually, but the challenge is how much thought has been given to the process for virtual court sittings. In this case, could this sentencing not be delayed to another time?”Can we say justice was seen to be done in this case, did the public have access to this session? It’s worth exploring if the processes that led to the virtual sitting followed the principle of natural justice and a fair hearing.

Also, Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said:

Singapore’s use of the death penalty is inherently cruel and inhumane, and the use of remote technology like Zoom to sentence a man to death makes it even more so.

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