The 33-year-old, who was sentenced to death in 2010 after being caught crossing the border the previous year with 42.72 grams of diamorphine, was due to be hanged on Wednesday, but the sentence was suspended after a last resort. filed by his lawyers.
They argue that Nagaenthran’s IQ of 69 affects his ability to make informed decisions.
The appeals court was due to consider the case on Tuesday, but the appeal was postponed after Nagaenthran was diagnosed with COVID-19.
UN experts noted that countries that retain the death penalty were only allowed to impose it for the most serious crimes “i.e. those involving intentional killings” and that offenses related to drugs did not meet this threshold. They urged the Singapore government to commute the sentence in accordance with international law.
“The use of this type of punishment to prevent drug trafficking is not only illegal under international law, it is also ineffective,” the statement said. “There is no convincing evidence that the death penalty contributes more than any other punishment to eradicating drug trafficking. “
The case has gained worldwide attention with legal experts, human rights groups, the European Union and even British entrepreneur Richard Branson urging the Singapore government to review the sentence. In a rare intervention, Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and other senior politicians in Malaysia also appealed to Singapore over the matter.
On Tuesday, Amnesty International urged the authorities to devote sufficient time to the appeal.
“To meet international standards of fairness, an appeal must not be rushed, but must serve as a meaningful opportunity to reconsider Nagaenthran’s case,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, his researcher in Singapore, in a statement calling for the cancellation of the execution. . “There is ample evidence of multiple human rights violations, including deep concerns about Nagaenthran’s mental capacity and his current state of health, which would make his execution illegal, and must be fully addressed. “
UN experts also expressed concern over Nagaenthran’s interrogation after his arrest, noting that he did not have access to “procedural accommodations for his disability during his interrogation.” They also stressed that the death penalty should not be applied to people with severe psychosocial and intellectual disabilities.
Singaporean authorities have maintained that Nagaenthran was aware of what he was doing when he committed the offense.
The city-state has long enforced a mandatory death penalty for people found carrying drugs in the country, but changed the law in 2012 to allow judges to hand down a life sentence for people found with smaller amounts of drugs that have been of significant help to prosecutors or in “anomaly of the mind” cases.
Singapore has not carried out any executions since 2019.