Lawyers Accuse Singapore of Systematic Torture of Malaysian Prisoners

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Human rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has urged Putrajaya to protest after accusing Singapore authorities of the “systematic torture” of several Malaysian death row prisoners at Changi prison, saying they were kept in solitary confinement in small dark cells with little ventilation.

  • Solitary confinement in tiny dark cells with little ventilation for 23 hours a day
  • Prisoners forced to sleep in a bent position as unable to stretch out when sleeping
  • Changi death row prisoner cells not even one-third of the Red Cross’ minimum size

“This is reminiscent of tortures inflicted during the Japanese Occupation. Within this tiny cell, the Malaysians are confined for 23 hours each day,” said LFL adviser n surendran, who said the information was relayed by the prisoners’ families.

He said since last month, prisoners had been removed from their cells and “locked up in tiny square-shaped cells which measure only three normal paces on each side”, in what he claimed was a move to “inflict maximum suffering”.

“This works out to a length of only about four feet on each side of the cell. The toilet and shower are also within the cell, thus reducing further the living space.

“It is like being locked up in a box. Prisoners are forced to sleep in a bent position as they are unable to stretch out when sleeping,” he said.

FMT is trying to get a response from Singapore prison authorities.

Saying it has received “multiple accounts” confirming the claims, LFL said Singapore authorities were in breach of international human rights norms, including a Red Cross recommendation of a minimum cell size of 5.4 sq m.

“The Changi death row prisoner cells are not even one-third of the Red Cross’ minimum size,” he said, adding that Malaysian prisoners were targeted in keeping with “a pattern of persecution and malevolent conduct” against them.

“It is also imperative that the Malaysian government urgently send a delegation to meet the prisoners themselves and scrutinise the conditions in the death row cells.”

Surendran, who represents Malaysian death row inmates in Singapore, previously accused the Singapore government of “double standards” in targeting Malaysians charged with drug trafficking for execution. He also claimed that lawyers were barred from visiting their clients in prison.

He said he himself had not been allowed to see his clients, including Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, a Malaysian death row inmate who was granted a stay of execution in May this year.

The Singapore government has denied the claims and defends the death penalty as an effective way of fighting drug crimes. – FMT