Groups converge at Parliament as pressure mounts against execution of mentally disabled Malaysian in Singapore
They also raise concerns over the 2009 arrest of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, citing his complaint that he had been threatened by a third party who handed him the drugs, as well as assaulted by officers.
Pressure is mounting on Putrajaya to intervene in the impending execution of a Malaysian death row prisoner in Singapore on Nov 10.
Dozens of activists today gathered at the Parliament building to hand over a memorandum to highlight the plight of Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who was convicted of a drug offence 10 years ago but diagnosed as intellectually disabled.
They said the execution of Nagaenthran, who has been diagnosed with mental impediments, would be a violation not only of international treaties but also of the Singapore constitution, adding that Malaysia too has an obligation to live up to the human rights principles by which it must abide following its recent appointment to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Nagaenthran has been diagnosed with mental disabilities and a low IQ level, as well as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
He was convicted in 2011 of illegally importing 42.72g of diamorphine and sentenced to death under Singapore’s Misuse of Drugs Act, a controversial law that the city-state’s leaders have defended as an effective deterrent against drug trafficking.
Critics of Singapore’s death penalty say the law has over the decades victimised drug mules from poor families, who were promised lucrative rewards by crime syndicates in exchange for carrying drugs into the republic.
Medical documents tendered during Nagaenthran’s trial said he could also have had little regard for the long-term consequences of his actions, while noting severe alcohol use disorder that would affect his judgment and decision making.
In the memorandum, the groups raised concerns surrounding Nagaenthran’s arrest in 2009 and the subsequent investigation, citing a complaint by him that he had been threatened by a third party who handed him the drugs, as well as assaulted by officers.
“It can be said that it would not only be wrong to execute Nagaenthran because of the circumstances surrounding the case and the official sentiments shared by these esteemed organisations and bodies, but also that it is incredibly excessive to administer the death penalty to an intellectually disabled individual given their personal culpability,” the memorandum said.
They also highlighted the obligation of both Singapore and Malaysia to adhere to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which prohibits the execution of mentally disabled persons.
“In respect to this matter, Malaysia should recognise the urgency of this issue and carry out its obligations as implemented in the convention by taking all necessary or appropriate measures to either delay or stop this imminent execution scheduled on Nov 10.”
They also said Nagaenthran’s crime cannot be categorised as among the “most serious crimes” as stated under the the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a treaty prohibiting capital punishment.
“While Malaysia and Singapore are not signatories to the ICCPR, the interpretation and limitation to the implementation of the death penalty for drug offences cannot be dismissed as it has gained traction and acceptance among the international community,” they said.
A Singapore court will hear on Nov 8 a constitutional challenge filed by prominent rights lawyer M Ravi in a last-minute bid to stop Nagaenthran’s execution.
Ravi is seeking an interpretation of Article 9 in line with its international obligations, citing a judgment in 2010 on the importance of adhering to the treaties a country has signed, as well as a constitutional clause on the right to equality and equal treatment.