Many human rights advocates have highlighted the incompatibility of his death sentence with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, to which Singapore is a signatory. Proceeding with the execution of a man who may not have fully understood the consequences of his actions, nor his rights in court, would cast serious doubts on Singapore’s willingness to uphold international law, undoubtedly a setback for a country that prides itself with its commitment to the rule of law.
Prominent human rights lawyer M Ravi today said he would urge the Malaysian government to take the case of a mentally disabled Malaysian to the International Court of Justice following the decision by Singapore’s apex court to throw out Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam’s appeal against his death sentence.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Ravi described the court’s decision as “absolutely shocking”, saying Nagaenthran had not even been given an opportunity to be assessed by his psychiatrists.
“Without giving an opportunity to have him properly assessed, and to take away his life, is a waste of this entire judicial exercise,” he said, adding that this was “seriously troubling”.
He also questioned the court’s statement that even though Singapore had signed an international treaty prohibiting the killing of intellectually disabled persons, the republic would not have to abide by it until it is legislated locally.
“This, to me, is also a serious violation of international law on the protection of people who are intellectually disabled,” he said.
“I will ask that the Malaysian government take this matter to the International Court of Justice, and ask for an interim stay immediately because this is actually an egregious breach of international law.”
Nagaenthran, who has an IQ of 69 – a level recognised as a disability – was arrested in 2009 for trafficking a small amount of heroin into Singapore. He was sentenced to death the following year.
His case sparked international condemnation, with Malaysian leaders including the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, as well as personalities such as British billionaire Richard Branson among those asking for leniency on his behalf.
UK-based legal group Reprieve said the Singapore government had made clear its commitment to champion the rights of persons with disabilities.
“Allowing this travesty of justice to take place would fly in the face of those promises,” it said in a statement after the court judgment.
“We urge President Halimah Yacob to listen to the cries for mercy within Singapore and around the world, from the United Nations to global business leaders, and spare the life of this vulnerable man.”
Rights group Lawyers for Liberty meanwhile said today’s decision was in utter disregard for Singapore’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, agreeing that Malaysia should take the matter to the International Court of Justice.
It also slammed the court for what it called an attack on Nagaenthran’s lawyers for bringing up his case.
“The court itself instructed the Singapore Attorney-General’s Chambers to seek costs from Nagaenthran’s lawyers for filing the legal challenges. It is a sickening conduct that runs contrary to the rule of law of any civilised nation when lawyers are penalised for daring to raise an issue a matter of life and death,” it said.
Ravi himself said he and fellow lawyer Violet Netto had been “chastised and criticised” by the court for filing the applications on Nagaenthran’s behalf.
“Why do we have to face all these disciplinary actions to do these kinds of cases?” he said.
“Why do lawyers like ourselves stand up? What do we gain out of this except humiliation and further ruination by the state?”
Source : Malaysia Now
Source : Malaysia Now
EU calls on Singapore to halt drug trafficker’s execution
European countries are calling on Singapore to halt the execution of Malaysian drug trafficker Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who is due to be hanged Wednesday after a decade on death row.
The Delegation of the European Union, along with Norway and Switzerland, issued a statement last night calling on Singapore to commute the sentence of the 33-year-old to life imprisonment and impose a moratorium on all executions as a “first step towards its abolition.” Nagaenthran is due to be hanged Wednesday despite rights groups highlighting his reportedly low IQ of 69 and thousands signing a petition for a presidential pardon.
“No compelling evidence exists to show that the death penalty serves as a more efficient deterrent to crime than imprisonment,” the delegation’s statement said. “Moreover, rehabilitation as an objective of modern criminal law is frustrated by the application of capital punishment. Furthermore, any errors – inevitable in any legal system – are irreversible.”
Nagaenthran was convicted and sentenced in 2010, a year after he was arrested with around 40 grams of heroin strapped to his thigh while entering Singapore from Malaysia. Multiple appeals of his sentence and a petition for presidential pardon were unsuccessful.
In 2017, the high court found that he did not have an “abnormality of mind” at the time of the offense and was aware of what he was doing. The court also pointed out Nagaenthran’s inconsistent statements, including his allegation that he was being “coerced under duress” into committing the crime only to accept later on that he had committed the crime because he needed money.
“The Court of Appeal found that Nagaenthran’s vacillation between various accounts of why he had committed the offence did not aid his case at all,” a statement from the Home Affairs Ministry addressing media queries said last week.
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob also wrote to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong seeking leniency in Nagaenthran’s case, according to a weekend report.
Source : Coconut
Richard Branson : Stop the killing of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam
If Singaporean courts get their way, Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, an intellectually disabled 33-year-old man from Malaysia, will be led to the gallows at Changi Prison on Wednesday, to be hanged for entering the country with 42 grams of heroin, an offence that carries a mandatory sentence of death under Singapore’s strict penal code. I join many others concerned about this tragic case in calling on Singapore’s President Halimah Yacob to use her pardon powers and spare Nagaenthran’s life. It would be the just and fair thing to do.
Coerced and threatened by drug traffickers exploiting his poverty, Nagaenthran was just 19 when he was arrested in 2019. His ordeal exposes the fatal flaws of the death penalty on so many levels.
To begin, there is the issue of Nagaenthran’s well-documented intellectual disability. He has an IQ of 69 and several psychiatric experts have diagnosed him with a range of mental impairments. Many human rights advocates have highlighted the incompatibility of his death sentence with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, to which Singapore is a signatory. Proceeding with the execution of a man who may not have fully understood the consequences of his actions, nor his rights in court, would cast serious doubts on Singapore’s willingness to uphold international law, undoubtedly a setback for a country that prides itself with its commitment to the rule of law.
Secondly, in many Asian countries, death sentences are imposed for non-violent drug offences, as part of a hard-fought “war on drugs” based on the idea that a zero-tolerance approach with harsh consequences will have a deterrent effect on both supply and demand of illicit drugs. Nothing could be further from the truth.
South-East Asian governments following this course of action have yet to provide any compelling evidence that draconian drug laws have noticeable impact on the illicit drug trade. Year after year, people face the gallows, the firing squad, or – in Duterte’s Philippines – unaccountable death squads for alleged drug-related crimes. Yet, the global drug trade continues to grow, and illicit drugs of all types are more readily available around the world than at any other point in history. If deterrence is the objective, these laws have failed miserably. And they will continue to fail. What countries really need is comprehensive drug policy reform that focuses on harm reduction and public health, not on crime and punishment.
Equally troubling are the aspects of inequality evident in this case. Few kingpins of the illicit drug trade, many of them operating out of Asian countries, ever face any consequences for their role in this multi-billion-dollar business. It’s the couriers, the foot soldiers, that bear the brunt of prosecution and its often fatal consequences. “If you don’t have the capital, you get the punishment,” the adage goes in the US. The Southeast Asian version of this story is no different. It’s almost always the most vulnerable people, people struggling to make ends meet, immigrants in need of money, that are roped into criminal schemes, unable to defend themselves when caught and facing the court. In Nagaenthran’s case, some have suggested that he himself may have been the victim of human trafficking. Either way, as a small cog in the wheel, he didn’t stand to gain much from his offence; the big profits are made elsewhere. In this sense, his case mirrors that of Hairun Jalmani in Malaysia, a 55-year-old single mother of nine who was handed a death sentence for possession of 114 grams of methamphetamine just a few weeks ago. It’s impossible not to see the extent to which inequality, poverty and the death penalty are linked. It’s a grave injustice.
I’ve never made a secret of my position on capital punishment. It’s an inhumane practice that deserves no place in modern society. But no matter where you stand, it’s cases like Nagaenthran’s that illustrate why the death penalty is broken beyond repair. Madame President, please spare his life and let’s work together to end executions for good.
Source : Virgin