Singapore: indefinite suspension of execution of man with learning disabilities after contracting Covid

Labyrinthine Covid Reminder System Is The Real Reason For The Delays

A man with learning disabilities who faces the death penalty in Singapore for smuggling a small amount of heroin has had his appeal adjourned and has been suspended indefinitely after testing positive for Covid.

Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, a Malaysian arrested in April 2009 when he was 21 for attempting to smuggle 43 grams of heroin into Singapore, has been on death row since 2010. His execution was scheduled for Wednesday.

His lawyer had asked for a stay on Monday on the grounds that his client suffers from “serious mental handicaps” and that his execution would be illegal.

The request was rejected, but the execution was suspended since Dharmalingam had the right to appeal. The appeal was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, with Dharmalingam supporters fearing the execution would still take place on Wednesday.

But it was announced on Tuesday that Dharmalingam had tested positive for Covid, prompting the court to adjourn the hearing. He ordered an indefinite stay of execution, according to Nagaenthran’s lawyer, Mr Ravi.

The case has sparked global outrage, with Singaporean activists, UN experts, international rights groups and legal groups calling for an end to the execution.

Businessman Richard Branson, who has previously campaigned against the death penalty, also issued a statement condemning the conviction. “Executing a man who may not have fully understood the consequences of his actions, nor his rights in court, would cast serious doubts on Singapore’s willingness to respect international law,” he said. he declared.

Dharmalingam has an IQ of 69, a level known to indicate learning disability and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, activists say. His supporters say there is evidence that he was forced to courier drugs as a victim of human trafficking.

Dharmalingam’s older sister Sarmila said she was relieved that the execution had been suspended, but stressed that it was only temporary. In a report shared on Twitter by reporter Kirsten Han, she said, “It took me a long time to be able to fall asleep last night because I was worried about my brother, and when I woke up in the morning I couldn’t stop me. think about him and cry, wait until 2:30 p.m. for today’s hearing …

“I’m only a little happy, because I know they didn’t stop the execution, only gave him a temporary stay… I’m afraid this will all repeat itself. “

Dharmalingam’s family are no longer allowed to visit him and will only be entitled to phone calls. “We don’t yet know how often we will be able to receive these phone calls,” Sarmila said.

A group of 11 British MPs and peers have written to the Singaporean High Commissioner, demanding that Dharmalingam’s life be spared. In the letter, they state that they learned that Dharmalingam “does not seem aware of the fact that he is in danger of execution, due to his mental state, and that he is hallucinating, is inconsistent and imagines his prison cell as a garden. in which it is safe ”. .

Singapore coronavirus statistics

UN experts have urged Singapore to stop the execution for good. “We are concerned that Mr. Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam did not have access to procedural accommodations for his disability during his questioning. We further stress that death sentences should not be carried out against people with severe psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.

“We are also concerned that his last 11 years on death row have caused a further deterioration in his mental health,” said a statement. It was signed by five UN experts including Morris Tidball-Binz, special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.

In a statement released after Monday’s hearing, the statement from the attorney general’s office said: “The high court reiterated that Dharmalingam has enjoyed due process according to the law. The High Court said it was not open to Dharmalingam to challenge the court’s findings regarding his mental liability, either directly or indirectly, in a further attempt to review and unravel the finality of those findings.


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