Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Singapore urges not to hang disabled Malaysian in drug case

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) – Singapore is set to execute a Malaysian man next week for smuggling a small amount of heroin into the country, but legal and human rights groups are urging the execution to be halted because the man is intellectually disabled. Is.

Nagenthran K. Dharmalingam, then 21, was detained in Singapore in April 2009 for trying to smuggle about 43 grams (1.5 oz) of heroin, which was found tied to his left thigh. He was sentenced to death in November 2010 under Singapore’s strict drug laws.

Opponents of the death penalty say Naghenthran’s IQ was revealed during the trial as 69, a level that is internationally recognized as an intellectual disability. They say they were also diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and an alcoholism disorder that together can affect their judgment, decision-making, and impulse control.

Naghenthran’s appeal to reduce the sentence to life in prison failed and a final push for a presidential pardon was rejected last year.

A judicial hearing was set for Monday to hear arguments that hanging a mentally handicapped person would violate Singapore’s constitution. If the review fails, Naghenthran will be the first to be executed in Singapore after 2019.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said on Wednesday that he had written to his Singaporean counterpart about the matter and would provide consular assistance to Naghenthran and his family. Singapore’s Interior Ministry defended the court’s decision, saying that Naghenthran clearly understood the crime and had exhausted all legal appeals.

His lawyer M. Ravi, now 33, said Naghenthran, now 33, “might have a mental age of under 18” and the disability does not allow him to understand or appreciate the resistance. “Therefore, we argue that the execution is irrational and a mind-boggling act of the state,” he wrote on Facebook.

The Malaysian Bar and two other legal entities appealed in Singapore this week for his sentence to be commuted.

A group of lawyers, activists and human rights groups also rallied outside Malaysia’s parliament this week, calling for government intervention. He said in his petition that the execution of Naghenthran given his disability was “incredibly excessive” and that he was being punished for a non-violent crime.

The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch called for Naghenthran to be rescued, saying that hanging a disabled person is a violation of international law and will not stop crime.

ADPAN said the failure to recognize Naghenthran’s mental health “indicates a systemic failure in Singapore’s criminal justice system.” Amnesty said there are “multiple violations of international human rights” and concerns about the fairness of the proceedings that could make their execution unlawful.

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Human Rights Watch said, “Singapore should reduce the sentence of Nagethran Dharmalingam and amend its laws to ensure that no one is subject to the death penalty, certainly not people with intellectual or psychosocial disabilities.” ”

The race to reduce the fine is giving Naghenthran’s family a ray of hope.

His elder sister, Sarmila Dharmalingam, said that the family cried and cried when they received the news of the hanging on October 26. Initially she kept it a secret from her mother, who, at the age of 59, still works as a cleaner and has health problems.

On Tuesday, two days before the Hindu festival of Diwali, 10 family members finally surrounded her to convince her about the impending execution of their son. She is scheduled to fly to Singapore on Friday and visit her son for the first time in nearly three years.

“Instead of celebrating Diwali, we are crying and thinking of our brother and counting the days,” 35-year-old Sarmila told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from northern Ipoh city on Thursday. “He is on death row for more than 10 years. Please give him a second chance and stop his hanging.”

Sarmila said that Naghenthran, the second of four siblings, is a loving person who did odd jobs during high school to help the family. She said the family still finds it difficult to accept the court’s outcome and is praying daily for a miracle.

In 2019, she said that Nagenthran suddenly refused to meet or talk to the family. Lawyer Ravi also wrote on Facebook that Nagenthran has refused to meet him since 2019.

Nagenthran finally opened recently and was reunited with them on the day the family was informed of his execution. Sarmila said she was calm but refused to talk about her silence or her impending sentence over the years.

He said his younger brother met Naghenthran in a Singapore prison this week and found his behavior strange. He said, Naghenthran would look up at the ceiling, talk incoherently and jump from one subject to another.

Sarmila said that he appeared happy in a phone call on Thursday and asked how the family was celebrating Diwali.

“Mom, don’t worry. I’ll be back soon and we can celebrate together” she quotes Naghenthran telling his mother in Tamil, before asking for his “ang pow” – a monetary Gifts that are usually given as a token of blessing.

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