Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today hit out at the Singapore government over a S$5,000 fine imposed on prominent lawyer M Ravi over applications in a case which later revealed that authorities in the city-state had been illegally spying on prison communications between Malaysian death row prisoners and their lawyers.
LFL adviser N Surendran said the fine, payable to Singapore’s attorney-general, was ordered by the Court of Appeal there four days ago.
“The excessive fine arose from a complaint by the AG against Ravi over applications he had filed in court on behalf of death row prisoner Syed Suhail,” he said, adding that Ravi had been at the forefront in defending Malaysian citizens facing the death penalty under Singapore’s drug laws.
In a statement, he said Ravi’s work had resulted in regular harassment and intimidation by the Singapore government, police, AG’s office and judiciary.
“The latest fine imposed on Ravi for doing his duty as defence counsel in a death penalty case is unprecedented, and clearly linked to his high-profile defence of many Malaysian drug mules on death row,” he added.
Noting Ravi’s efforts in the case of Malaysian Gobi Avedian, which had resulted in the case being reopened, Surendran said the fine was “clearly intended to prevent him from vigorously pursuing appeals in the cases of the other Malaysians in death row”.
“Apart from this, the Singapore AG has also brought disciplinary action against Ravi, by faulting legitimate court applications Ravi had pursued in Gobi Avedian’s case.
“This persecution of Ravi by the Singapore government, AG and judiciary over his strong stance against the death penalty, has been longstanding and a black mark upon Singapore’s international reputation.
“We strongly urge the Singapore government to respect the rule of law, and allow Ravi to carry on his efforts on behalf of Malaysian death row prisoners without further subjecting him to such oppressive proceedings.”
He added that lawyers in Malaysia had managed to raise the full sum of S$5,000 in support of Ravi.
“We hope this will send a clear message to the Singapore government and their judiciary to allow defence lawyers to carry out their duties without undue interference or punitive consequences.”