Singapore Urged to Drop Charges Against Lawyer Representing Malaysian on Death Row

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Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) is now urging Singapore to drop all charges against human rights lawyer M Ravi, who is representing a Malaysian on death row for drug trafficking.

Miera Zulyana

“We condemn this high-handed action against Ravi and demand that Singapore drop 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 LFL advisor N Surendran.

Surendran claimed that Ravi, who is representing Malaysian Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, was served with a notice of action by the Singapore attorney general for allegedly “prejudicing the administration of justice” over a statement issued in Malaysia during a press conference on July 23.

“In addition, contempt of court charges may also be brought against Ravi,” said Surendran in a press statement on Tuesday (Aug 20).

Surendran claimed that Singapore is notorious for prosecuting those who criticise its death penalty sentence that allegedly targets drug mules.

As an example, Surendran said British author Alan Shadrake was jailed in 2010 for criticising the death sentence in Singapore.


“For courageously defending a mentally-impaired Malaysian citizen, Ravin now stands to lose his licence to practice law.”

Surendran also claimed that Malaysians are being targeted by Singapore for conviction and executions as drug mules.

He quoted Singapore Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugan as saying in May that the government “will not go easy on Malaysian drug offenders”.

“It is shocking that not only are Malaysians being targeted, but they are also being denied legal representation.”

Surendran subsequently alleged that the Singaporean government had threatened to take action against him as an instructing solicitor for Malaysian prisoners in Changi over a “trumped-up charge of scandalising their judiciary”.

“Similarly, they are now persecuting Ravi, who is internationally known for his relentless advocacy on behalf of death row prisoners and against the death penalty,” he said.

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”.