Surendran urges Singapore to drop charges against lawyer defending Malaysian on death row

Danial Dzulkifly
International Human Rights lawyer M. Ravi speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya July 23, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — Lawyers for Liberty legal adviser N. Surendran today urged Singaporean authorities to stop persecuting lawyer M. Ravi, who is representing mentally challenged Malaysian death row inmate Nagaenthran Dharmalingam.

Singapore’s Attorney General had initiated action against Ravi by filing a complaint with the Singapore Law Society for allegedly “prejudicing the administration of justice”.

“The AG has filed a complaint on those grounds to the Singapore Law Society, which is likely to result in Ravi being barred from legal practice. In addition, contempt of court charges may also be brought against him.

“We condemn this high-handed action against M. Ravi and demand that Singapore drops all charges against him. We further demand that Singapore cease and desist from further threatening or interfering with the lawyers of the Malaysian death row prisoners.

“We also urge the Malaysian government to make urgent representations to Singapore in protest against the continual persecution and threats against the lawyers of Malaysian death row prisoners,’’ said Surendran in a statement today.

Surendran had previously likened Singapore’s treatment of those in death row to that of North Korea, claiming it has forgone norms that are observed under the international law and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Nagaenthran has been in prison for a decade with eight of those years served under death row, with LFL collaborating with Singaporean lawyer and human rights activist Ravi, who represents Nagaenthran’s family.

Since being in prison, Nagaenthran’s first appeal was to be re-sentenced under amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act that were passed in 2012.

The amendments allow a court to sentence a drug offender to life imprisonment instead of death if they were merely a courier, on the condition that the public prosecutor issues the offender a certificate of substantive assistance — for helping Central Narcotics Bureau of Singapore to disrupt drug trafficking activities.

Additionally, the court must also sentence the offender to life imprisonment if he or she was merely a courier and also suffering from an abnormality of the mind.

Despite Nagaenthran‘s obvious mental disability, the High Court Judge and the Court of Appeal opined that borderline intellectual function was insufficient to qualify Nagaenthran as suffering from an “abnormality of the mind".

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