MALAYSIA – Will the abolition of the Mandatory Death Penalty be further delayed?

Malaysia announced on October 10 2018 (being also the World Day Against the Death Penalty), that the Malaysian Cabinet had reached a consensus (a collective decision) that the death penalty for 33 offences as provided for under eight Acts of law would be abolished, and this was again reiterated several times(Straits Times, 13/11/2018).

Then on 13/3/2019, the Malaysian government made a “shocking” U-turn and said that only the mandatory death penalty would be axed. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said the mandatory death penalty was for nine offences under the Penal Code and two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971.( New Straits Times, 13/3/2019)

The indication has been that the relevant Bill/s to abolish the mandatory death penalty at the upcoming Parliamentary session this October…but now the Minister announced a ‘special committee’…and the concern is whether this may be a new reason to justify further delay in the abolition of the Mandatory Death Penalty..

Below a media statement by MADPET, a member of ADPAN

 

Media Statement -11/9/2019

‘Special Committee’  Another Excuse For Delay in Abolition of Mandatory Penalty?

Delay Prejudices Many Accused Persons Whose Trial Commenced Before Abolition becomes Law

MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture) is tickled by the announcement now of the Malaysian Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong that a special committee to look for alternatives to the mandatory death sentence will be set up (Malay Mail, 6/9/2019). Such a committee could have been established earlier in March, but to do so now, a few weeks before the commencement of the October Parliamentary Session, when the Bill/s to abolish mandatory death penalty was to be tabled is really disconcerting.

MADPET is also concerned whether it is just another attempt to further delay the decision to abolish the mandatory death penalty. Last October, the Cabinet decided to abolish death penalty, then in March this year, they changed their mind.

U-Turns – From Abolishing Death Penalty in 33 Offences to Abolishing Mandatory Death Penalty in 11 Offences

It was announced on October 10 2018 (being also the World Day Against the Death Penalty), that the Malaysian Cabinet had reached a consensus (a collective decision) that the death penalty for 33 offences as provided for under eight Acts of law would be abolished, and this was again reiterated several times(Straits Times, 13/11/2018).

Then on 13/3/2019, the Malaysian government made a “shocking” U-turn and said that only the mandatory death penalty would be axed. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said the mandatory death penalty was for nine offences under the Penal Code and two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971.( New Straits Times, 13/3/2019)

MANDATORY PENALTIES OUSTS JUDICIAL POWERS IN SENTENCING

A mandatory death penalty deprives judge’s sentencing discretion – the ability to order an appropriate just sentence, when a person is found guilty and convicted of the crime.

When there is a mandatory sentence, judges will have no choice but impose that one mandatory sentence provided by law. If there were no mandatory sentence, then when it comes to sentencing will consider all aggravating factors, mitigating factors and all the circumstances of the case, and give a just sentence to those found guilty.

Parliament should justly impose no mandatory sentence, though they may stipulate maximum or even minimum sentences that would be imposed on a person is found guilty of a particular crime. The sentenced to be imposed on every person found should always be in the hands of judges.

4 persons convicted of murder. Should not a higher sentenced be given for the person who killed, and maybe a lower sentence for a young man who came along but did not actually kill anyone? Should not a higher sentence be given for a repeat offender and a lesser sentence be given for a first time offender?

REPLACEMENT FOR MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY

When the mandatory death penalty is abolished, it is best that it is not replaced simply with just another mandatory sentence be it imprisonment for life or imprisonment for natural life (being in prison until one dies), This also would be wrong and unjust.

When the mandatory death penalty is abolished, the law would still provide that the sentence for the crime could be death, imprisonment for natural life, life imprisonment and/or imprisonment for a term not less than 10-15 years. Then, it will be up to the judge to impose a just and appropriate sentence, based on the facts and circumstances of a particular case. Remember, that if one is unhappy with the sentence, one can always appeal the sentence to the Court or Appeal, and even the Federal Court.

As such, there is really no reasonable or justifiable reason to set up any ‘special committee to look for alternatives to the mandatory death sentence’. We know the options, and the government, the Members of Parliament and Senators can decide.

MADPET hopes that this Malaysian government, who previously decided to abolish the death penalty, who then did a U-turn to now only abolish the mandatory death penalty will no more procrastinate BUT will speedily table the relevant Bills in Parliament in this upcoming October Parliamentary session.

DELAY IN ABOLITION OF MANDATORY DEATH PENALTY PREJUDICES ACCUSED WHOSE TRIAL HAVE STARTED.

It must be remembered that the delay of the previous Barisan National government in putting in force the Dangerous Drugs Amendment Act 2017, which abolished the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, by several months resulted in great injustice to at least 10 persons who were sentenced to death as judges still could not use the new law until it was in force.

Now, the Pakatan Harapan-led government’s delay in the abolition of the mandatory death penalty also greatly prejudices accused persons charged with mandatory death penalty offences, whose trial are starting, proceeding and/or will end before the amendment becomes law. Now, the prosecution and the defense are preparing and presenting their evidence and submissions in these trials on the basis that conviction results in the mandatory death penalty. If there is no mandatory death penalty, evidence tendered will also be evidence that would assist the Judge later in imposing a sentence other than the death sentence.

If mandatory death penalty is now abolished, justice would only be done for those sentenced to the mandatory death penalty may be by a re-trial, where all court records of the trial before are expunged and cannot be relied upon. Alternatively, a less just option, for trials yet to have ended, provisions be given for prosecution and defense to adduce new relevant evidence, including the recalling of witnesses, which will have a bearing on the sentence to be imposed if found guilty.

As such, the abolition of the mandatory death penalty should be not be delayed.

Other amendments to deal with cases where trials have already commenced or have ended by the time the abolition of mandatory death penalty had come into force can always be dealt with later, maybe in subsequent amendments tabled in Parliamentary sessions in 2020.

DEATH ROW PRISONERS – PARDON CAN COMMUTE DEATH SENTENCES

For those currently on death row, who are now more than 1,200 persons, the only way now is through the commutation of the death sentence to imprisonment, which can be done by Pardon by the King and the State Rulers.

In 1983, Datuk Mokhtar Hashim, then Culture, Youth and Sports Minister received the death penalty for the murder of Datuk Taha Talib, the state assemblyman for Tampin, In 1984 he received a ‘royal pardon’ when his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment, and thereafter in 1991 another ‘royal pardon’ set him free from prison.

The power of pardon is exercisable by the King and/or the Ruler or Yang di- Pertua Negeri of a State (Article 42 Federal Constitution), and this how those on death row could be dealt with. The problem now is not just the frequency of Pardon Board meetings, but the lack of procedural and guidelines that these Pardon Boards need follow.

MADPET is of the opinion that all those currently on death law be pardoned and their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

Besides royal pardon, the commutation of death sentence could also possibly be achieved through an enactment of a new law.

Alternatively, the right of death row inmates to apply to court for a review of their guilt and sentence could be clearly provided for in our laws. This should also include the ability to easily adduce new evidence, which may not have been adduced for whatever reason by their lawyers and/or prosecution. Why should the convicted be prejudiced for failings of even his/her own lawyer, as today the law makes it very difficult for the adducing of new evidence that already existed then but was not adduced and brought to attention of the court during trial? There are also many cases where prosecution and/or police, despite having relevant evidence, simply chose not bring it to the attention of the courts.

LAWS AND AMENDMENTS

The government can immediately amend the law to abolish the mandatory death penalty. Now, it could impose a natural life prison sentence.

Later, it can always again amend the law to even give greater discretion to judges maybe imprisonment not less than 15 years to natural life sentences, which it could do after this ‘special committee’ submits its conclusions maybe 3 – 6 months down the road.

The abolition of the mandatory death penalty must not be delayed simply because we are waiting for this ‘special committee’ to submit its final report.

The law could also later be amended to deal with persons whose trial has commenced and completed before the law abolishing mandatory death penalty comes into force.

It is sad that the government has been using all kinds of excuses to delay bringing about necessary repeal or amendment of draconian laws in Malaysian. For example, in June 19, it was reported The government will wait for the Federal Court to decide on a suit challenging the constitutionality of the death penalty for trafficking before it tables an amendments ( Malay Mail, 17/6/2019). Parliament makes laws and there is no need to wait to be told by Court whether a law is constitutional or bad.

The worry now is that in the near future, the Minister will come out and say that the mandatory death penalty will not be abolished until it receives the final report from this ‘special committee’ it set up weeks before the Bill to abolish death penalty is to be tabled.

THERFORE, MADPET

–          Calls on the Malaysian government to no longer delay the abolition of the mandatory death penalty, which ought to be done in the upcoming Parliamentary session beginning October

2019;

–          Call on the new Malaysian government, who have been power for more than 16 months, to no longer procrastinate in the abolition of other draconian laws like the Sedition Act, the Detention Without Trial laws and other draconian laws; and

–          Reiterates the call for the abolition of the death penalty, and the commutation of all death sentences of persons on death row.

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Minister: Special committee to study alternative to mandatory death sentence

Published 4 days ago on 06 September 2019

Liew said in a statement today that the decision on the special committee was made by the Cabinet on August 29. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 6 — The government has agreed to set up a special committee to look for alternatives to the mandatory death sentence.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law) Datuk Liew Vui Keong said in a statement today that the decision on the special committee was made by the Cabinet on August 29.

He said the special committee will be chaired by a former Chief Justice of Malaysia.

Its members will comprise former Federal Court judges, former Attorney General Chambers officers, former senior officers of the Prisons Department as well as representatives of the Bar Council, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), academics, criminologists, and civil society organisations.

“The government is taking a pro-active and cautious step by setting up this special committee to ensure that an alternative sentence which is commensurate with the criminal offence is imposed, taking into account the implications on and welfare of the victim,” Liew said.

He said the repeal of the mandatory death sentence will give the judge discretion to impose a death sentence or an alternative sentence, based on the facts of the case.

Liew said the proposal to repeal the mandatory death sentence was in line with the 27 pledges in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto. — Bernama – Malay Mail, 6/9/2019

Abolishing of death penalty is collective decision by Cabinet, says Liew

Nation

Wednesday, 14 Nov 2018 9:58 AM MYT

By RASHVINJEET S. BEDI

Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/11/14/liew-death-penalty-abolition-was-a-collection-cabinet-decision#S3aaU5bGx0x8bTZo.99

Malaysia’s Cabinet decides to end death penalty for 33 offences

Published

Nov 13, 2018, 2:01 pm SGT

KUALA LUMPUR (BERNAMA) – Malaysia’s Cabinet has reached a consensus that the death penalty for 33 offences as provided for under eight Acts of law should be abolished,  including Section 302 of the Penal Code, which pertains to murder, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said on Tuesday (Nov 13).

He said the decision, which was reached collectively, also encompassed the Firearms (Heavier Penalties) Act, 1971; Firearms Act, 1960; Kidnapping Act, 1961; and Armed Forces Act, 1972.

Death penalties also provided for under the Water Services Industries Act, 2006; Strategic Trade Act, 2010; and Dangerous Drugs Act, 1952, are also to be abolished.

“Following the Cabinet decision,  a Cabinet memorandum has been circulated to the relevant ministries for their comments and to get public feedback on it,” Datuk Liew said during a question-and-answer session in the Dewan Rakyat.

He was replying to a question from  Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen, the Pakatan Harapan MP from Bandar Kuching, who wanted to know the government’s position on abolishing the death penalty, in particular with respect to whether there will be exceptions for extremely cruel crimes,

Mr Liew also told the House that the Bill on the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) was expected to be tabled at the next sitting of Parliament after all issues and policies were finalised.

He said follow-up meetings on the setting up of the commission had agreed that it should be truly independent, effective and have the power to tackle problems involving  the police force.

“The framework takes into consideration powers that are more holistic and in line with existing laws and are currently in force,” he said in reply to a question from Ms Maria Chin Abdullah, the Pakatan Harapan MP representing Petaling Jaya.

Mr Liew said the police’s rights would also be assured as enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

In September 2018, the government announced the setting up of the IPCMC to replace the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission. – Straits Times, 13/11/2018

Mandatory death penalty to be repealed for 11 criminal offences

(Stock image for illustration purposes) “We have made a decision. The government will only repeal the mandatory death penalty. We will make the amendments. This is in keeping with the 27th pledge in the Pakatan Harapan (election) manifesto.”

By Bernama – March 13, 2019 @ 3:07pm

KUALA LUMPUR: The mandatory death penalty for 11 criminal offences are to be repealed and substituted with death penalty imposed at the discretion of the court, the Dewan Rakyat was told.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin said the mandatory death penalty was for nine offences under the Penal Code and two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971.

“We have made a decision. The government will only repeal the mandatory death penalty. We will make the amendments. This is in keeping with the 27th pledge in the Pakatan Harapan (election) manifesto,” he said when replying to a question from Datuk Che Abdullah Mat Nawi (Pas-Tumpat) during Question Time.

Replying to a supplementary question from Che Abdullah on whether the government intends to set up a parliamentary select committee to discuss the repeal of the death penalty before tabling the amendment bill, Hanipa said he would forward the suggestion to the government.

The cabinet, at a meeting in October 2018, decided to repeal the mandatory death penalty for 33 offences under eight acts. – Bernama – New Straits Times, 13/3/2019

Singapore Lawyer representing Malaysian on Death Row face retaliation by Singapore Attorney General?

It is sad when the Attorney General files a notice to the Law Society to take disciplinary action against M.Ravi, a lawyer and Human Rights Defender, which may result in the lawyer being no longer able to practice as a lawyer…

The AGC on 1 Aug filed a complaint to the Law Society against M Ravi over his memo to the Malaysian government, in which he urged the Malaysian government to promptly bring Nagaenthran’s case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ)….In the complaint formally received by the Law Society the same day…Citing Section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Practice Act, the AGC charged that M Ravi’s “conduct” is “calculated to prejudice the administration of justice, and is accordingly improper” for a lawyer, who is “a member of an honourable profession”…“[T]he AG requests that the Council of the Law Society of Singapore refers the above information touching upon Mr Ravi’s conduct to a Disciplinary Tribunal, pursuant to Section 85(3)(b) of the LPA,” the note read.

Lawyer Ravi is representing a Malaysian Nagaenthran Dharmalingam on death row – who is alleged is to be mentally impaired > as such, he should not be executed..

A lawyer and/or human rights defender is expected to do his best to avoid injustice – In July, Ravi together with others including the family members are calling, amongst others, the Malaysian government to promptly bring Nagaenthran’s case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Another Malaysian lawyer, N. Surendran, also stated that he too have been subjected to threats …   ‘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”….’

Lawyers and Human Rights Defenders should not be targetted by any government in their struggle for justice and human rights… 

What is the Pakatan Harapan government’s response – will they be bothered to help this Malaysian on death row by refering this case to the International Court of Justice?

Is the government bothered about this Malaysian on death row in a foreign country? Does it care …or simply not bothered?

 

Drop charges against lawyer representing Malaysian on death row, Singapore told

Nation

Tuesday, 20 Aug 2019 10:31 AM MYT

Lawyer N. Surendran.

PETALING JAYA: 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.

“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 (pic).

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.

“The AG has filed a complaint on those grounds to the Singapore Law Society, which is likely to result in Ravi being barred from legal practice.

“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 license 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. – Star, 20/8/2019

Singaporean international human rights lawyer M Ravi (left) with Lawyers For Liberty founder and Malaysian lawyer N. Surendran at the Lawyers for Liberty press conference in Petaling Jaya on Tue (23 Jul). Source: TOC/Danisha Hakeem

S’pore govt should “drop all charges” against M Ravi over statement on M’sian drug mule Nagaenthran’s case: Lawyers For Liberty

The Singapore government must drop all charges against Singaporean international human rights lawyer M Ravi over a statement he made regarding the case of 30-year-old Malaysian drug mule Nagaenthran s/o K Dharmalingam, said Lawyers For Liberty.

N Surendran, advisor of the Malaysian human rights organisation and a lawyer himself, alleged in a statement on Tue (20 Aug) that the charges against M Ravi “is consistent with the ongoing targeting by Singapore of Malaysian citizens for conviction and execution as drug mules”.

“It is shocking that not only are Malaysians being targeted, but they are also being denied legal representation. It is clear that Singapore now wants to hang Malaysians without giving them the benefit of proper legal representation,” he added.

Surendran noted that he was also allegedly similarly targeted by the Singapore government in the course of representing Malaysian death row prisoners in Singapore.

“In July this year, Singapore threatened to take action against myself as instructing solicitor for Malaysian prisoners in Changi on a trumped up charge of scandalising their judiciary.

“Similarly, they are now persecuting M Ravi, who is known internationally for his relentless advocacy on behalf of death row prisoners and against the death penalty,” he said, citing the case of Yong Vui Kong, whose death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 2010.

Surendran stressed that the complaint, filed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers of Singapore on the grounds of M Ravi allegedly prejudicing “the administration of justice” through his claims, will not only likely result in M Ravi being disbarred, but may also pave the way for contempt of court charges against him.

“For courageously defending a mentally impaired Malaysian citizen, M Ravi now stands to lose his licence to practice law,” he said.

Surendran added that Singapore should “cease and desist” from “further threatening or interfering” in the efforts of lawyers of Malaysian death row prisoners in the Republic.

“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,” he added.

Nagaenthran, who is currently on death row in Changi Prison, was arrested in 2009 and convicted in 2010 for trafficking not less than 42.72 grams of diamorphine into Singapore via Woodlands Checkpoint in Apr 2009. The Court of Appeal rejected two of his appeals in May this year.

AGC files complaint to Law Society against M Ravi for ICJ memo to Malaysian government over drug mule Nagaenthran’s case; M Ravi apologises “unconditionally”

The AGC on 1 Aug filed a complaint to the Law Society against M Ravi over his memo to the Malaysian government, in which he urged the Malaysian government to promptly bring Nagaenthran’s case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

In the complaint formally received by the Law Society the same day and which was seen by TOC, the AGC accused M Ravi of making “baseless” and “false” statements “which attack State Prosecutors in Singapore, a sitting Judge of the State Courts of Singapore, and the Singapore Courts”, based on his note to the Malaysian government, as seen in his media statement on 23 Jul.

Among the refutations made by the AGC included stating that M Ravi had made “sweeping and unwarranted attacks” against Senior District Judge Bala Reddy, who was then a Principal Senior State Counsel or Chief Prosecutor at the AGC.

“Mr Ravi makes sweeping, false claims that SDJ Reddy made certain statements in 2010 that were biased against independent defence psychiatrists. However, Mr Ravi failed to explain what exactly these statements were, and when, where and in what context they were made,” said AGC.

The note added that M Ravi had also made what the AGC deemed as a baseless assertion regarding the Singapore Courts’ role in Nagaenthran’s case.

In the AGC’s view, M Ravi implied the Courts “will not or did not correct the alleged breaches of his client’s rights”, and that the courts have failed or refused to “properly assess the expert reports tendered by the State Prosecutor”.

Citing Section 83(2)(h) of the Legal Practice Act, the AGC charged that M Ravi’s “conduct” is “calculated to prejudice the administration of justice, and is accordingly improper” for a lawyer, who is “a member of an honourable profession”.

“[T]he AG requests that the Council of the Law Society of Singapore refers the above information touching upon Mr Ravi’s conduct to a Disciplinary Tribunal, pursuant to Section 85(3)(b) of the LPA,” the note read.

Highlighting that he is handling Nagaenthran’s case on a pro bono basis, M Ravi in a Facebook post on Mon (19 Aug) called upon the AGC to “reconsider its decision and perhaps issue a statement” to counter his legal arguments instead of ”instituting a formal complaint of this nature”.

“I am just doing my best to address the rather complex issues in this particular death penalty case and the death penalty regime in Singapore where lives are at stake,” he said.

“I urge the Law Society of Singapore, lawyers, the international community and you my friends to stand together with me in solidarity during this trying period ahead,” said M Ravi.

M Ravi has since deleted the post. However, he apologised for the entire fiasco the same day the previous post was published.

In a new Facebook post the same day, M Ravi said that he “did not intend to prejudice the administration of justice” in making his previous claims, in addition to being willing to “unequivocally withdraw” the allegations he made in the note.

Executing mentally impaired M’sian death row prisoner contravenes international law and even S’pore’s laws: Lawyers For Liberty

Previously, Surendran similarly alleged that Malaysians in particular “are being targeted by Singapore for this kind of treatment”, which he claimed is in line with Singapore’s Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam’s statement in May regarding Malaysian death row prisoners convicted of drug trafficking in Singapore.

Mr Shanmugam told The Straits Times on 24 May that while he acknowledges that some ministers in the Pakatan Harapan government are “ideologically opposed” to the death penalty, Singapore will remain steadfast in its decision to continue imposing the death penalty on persons found guilty of drug trafficking, and thus expects Malaysia to “respect that condition as well.”

“It is not tenable to give a special moratorium to Malaysians, and impose it on everyone else, including Singaporeans who commit offences which carry the death penalty,” said Mr Shanmugam, adding that the Singapore government will not “be deflected from doing the right thing for Singapore” and its population, whom he believes “is supportive of that stand”.

“That is the question I want to ask Mr [K] Shanmugam: When you said in May that you won’t go easy on Malaysians, does that mean you will even execute a Malaysian suffering from mental disability? Is that what you mean, Mr Shanmugam?” Surendran charged, in a joint press conference with Singaporean international human rights lawyer M Ravi at the Lawyers For Liberty office in Petaling Jaya on Tue (23 Jul).

Surendran, the Malaysian lawyer for Pannir Selvam Pranthaman who was granted a stay of execution by the SGCA at the end of May, also argued: “How can that be part of a fair trial? How can [it be said that] our [Malaysian] citizens have been treated fairly? I think it’s staring everyone in the face that Nagaenthran was not treated fairly.”

“Can you hang a person who has got [an] IQ [of] 69, and who an independent psychiatrist has declared as [having a] mental disability? … We are saying you cannot. That is in breach of international law and even Singapore’s laws,“ he charged.- The Online Citizen, 21/8/2019

Don’t execute mentally challenged Malaysian, Singapore urged

Lawyers for Liberty legal adviser N Surendran (in red tie) and Singapore-based lawyer M Ravi and relatives of death row inmate Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam at the press conference today. Nagaenthran’s mother, Panchalai Subramaniam, is fourth from right.

PETALING JAYA: A rights group has urged the Singapore government not to execute a 31-year-old Malaysian who was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in 2010.Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who is said to be suffering from mental disabilities, was found guilty of importing 42.72gm of heroin into Singapore in 2009.

Lawyers for Liberty legal adviser N Surendran said executing a mentally challenged man was against international law and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which Singapore had ratified.

“It is beyond dispute that he suffers from mental disability. This evaluation was made by an independent psychiatrist and the evidence has been submitted to court,” he told a press conference here today.

“Singapore is putting themselves in the same category as Iran or North Korea in sentencing to death or putting on death row a mentally challenged individual.”

Surendran noted Singapore Minister for Law and Home Affairs K Shanmugan’s statement in May 2009 that the island state would not be “going easy” on Malaysians convicted of drug trafficking.

Claiming again that Malaysians were being targeted by Singapore, he said: “The Malaysian government must take note of this.”

He said this may even affect bilateral ties.

Surendran accused Singapore of being “notorious” for not having an independent judiciary. This, he said, denied Malaysian citizens their right to a free trial.

He said Nagaenthran’s defence counsel had submitted a psychiatric report from a well-regarded independent psychiatrist, which suggested the accused was mentally disabled.

However, he said the report was disputed by the court and also by state psychiatrists.

Despite that, the court still accepted that Nagaenthran had a low IQ of 69 and suffered from a mild case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a learning disability.

Singaporean-based human rights lawyer M Ravi, who is acting for Nagaenthran’s family, said Singapore had been shown to have “inherent biases” against independent psychiatrists appointed by defence lawyers.

On the other hand, he said, psychiatrists from Singapore’s Institute of Mental Health were regarded as “objective” and “impartial”.

Ravi said this “institutional bias” had violated the rights of individuals to a fair trial.

He claimed that one of the psychiatrists commissioned by the state also failed to examine Nagaenthran in person.

“Instead, he only looked at the independent psychiatrist’s report in an attempt to poke holes at it,” he said.

Ravi said Singapore’s law allowed for an exemption from the death penalty in drug-related offences if the convict was found to have mental disabilities.

However, he said the state had “set the bar so high” for convicts to satisfy that criteria in the event he or she suffered from a mental disability.

Clemency petition

The lawyers said they were preparing a clemency petition to be submitted to the Singaporean government.

However, Ravi noted that since 1998, Singapore had not considered any clemency petitions and the chances of that happening now were slim.

He said he had also drafted a complaint to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on behalf of Malaysia, which has been sent to de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong.

Surendran said Malaysia had a valid case to bring to the ICJ.

“There is already a case to haul Singapore to the ICJ. Other countries have hauled each other for lesser reasons than this,” he said, adding that execution of a citizen who was disabled was one of the strongest cases for ICJ intervention.

However, he added that they would leave the matter to the government.

Both lawyers said the ICJ may issue an interim stay of execution even if Singapore had not submitted to the international court.

Surendran said they were running out of time to save Nagaenthran and they could no longer estimate how quickly he and others on death row were moving towards execution.

He said LFL had previously revealed there were 10 clemency petitions – four of them on behalf of Malaysians – dismissed by the Singaporean government at one go. – Free Malaysia Today, 23/7/2019

M Ravi returns to law practice after reality jolt spurred by high-profile incidents

By Louisa Tang

Published07 July, 2019

Updated 08 July, 2019

SINGAPORE — Human rights lawyer M Ravi cuts a different figure than he did just a few years ago, and he is well-aware of the striking change.

Barred from applying for a practising certificate for two years in 2016, he was also grappling with bipolar disorder — punctuated by episodes of mania and depression. Unable to manage his mental condition, he ended up assaulting an ex-colleague, among other incidents.

Last year, he was ordered to undergo 18 months of mandatory treatment in lieu of jail time for his offences.

Now, the 50-year-old said that he has not suffered a relapse for more than a year — borne out of working closely with his doctors, family and friends to prevent relapses.

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Things are looking up for him on the professional front as well. Mr Ravi, whose full name is Ravi Madasamy, received his practising certificate on Friday (July 5) after four years of not being able to flex his legal muscles in the courtroom.

A Supreme Court spokesperson confirmed to TODAY that the Registrar of the Supreme Court has issued Mr Ravi the practising certificate, with conditions. On what these conditions are, the court referred TODAY to Mr Ravi, who did not wish to reveal the details.

Fellow human rights and criminal lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam welcomed him back to law firm Eugene Thuraisingam LLP in March, though Mr Ravi has since left and re-joined opposition party leader Lim Tean’s firm, Carson Law Chambers.

In June 2017, Mr Thuraisingam fired Mr Ravi as the firm’s head of knowledge management and strategic alliance — a job Mr Ravi accepted after the High Court suspended him in 2015 from practising until he was medically fit to do so.

Mr Ravi then broke into the firm’s People’s Park Centre office three times, before assaulting fellow lawyer, Ms Jeannette Chong-Aruldoss, outside the firm’s main office at The Adelphi.

“It was clear that I was unwell at the time when the incident took place,” he said in an interview with TODAY in April.

Mr Thuraisingam said that he has always considered Mr Ravi a friend, and that the nature of his illness caused him to behave in an “unfortunate” manner.

“Having said that, he needs to learn and understand that he cannot behave in that manner and do bad things to people. But we do hope and are confident that he will change for the better,” he added.

DID NOT RECOGNISE EARLY SYMPTOMS

Diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2006, Mr Ravi suffers from hypomanic episodes, characterised by symptoms such as euphoric or irritable moods. He said he was unable to recognise early symptoms.

In 2012, when the Law Society (LawSoc) ordered him to stop his legal practice pending a medical examination, he created a ruckus at the society’s premises.

In February 2015, LawSoc banned him from practising, before the High Court suspended his practice altogether. A week earlier, he had declared in a hastily convened press conference that he would run in Singapore’s next General Election, adding that he aspired to be the next prime minister.

About two years later, he used abusive language on others at Chinatown’s Sri Mariamman Temple on two occasions.

Then, when he persisted in representing Malaysian drug trafficker Prabagaran Srivijayan, who had been given the death penalty, the Court of Appeal ordered him to pay costs for a “senseless and frivolous” application.

Lawyer M Ravi outside court several years ago before losing the right to practise, a right that was restored on July 5, 2019.

On July 14, 2017, the morning Prabagaran was executed, Mr Ravi turned up at a candlelight vigil outside Changi Prison Complex and berated the crowd. At the gathering was freelance journalist and fellow anti-death-penalty activist Kirsten Han, who — among several of his friends — publicly urged him to seek help.

“It’s been painful for those of us who care about him to watch this downward spiral, played out so publicly over Facebook Live over the past months,” Ms Han wrote in a Facebook post shortly after.

Such pleas from Mr Ravi’s loved ones jolted him to reality.

He said: “I sought help and treatment to curb my relapses after realising and watching my own videos of the distress I was causing myself and others around me.”

Now, he said, he has better insight into his condition and has learned to recognise triggers.

He also said that those with bipolar disorder are “sadly, grossly misunderstood and still stigmatised today”, due to a lack of awareness and education on mental health in general.

“It is important to recognise that one should not treat a relapse from bipolar disorder any differently from a relapse from any other physical or mental illness. Both are physiological medical conditions that deserve care, empathy and respect for the patient.”

Any misbehaviour due to the condition should not be equated to a character flaw, he added.

As for himself, he said he did not get the impression that people question his ability to do his work now.

“I think what is more important is not the fall, but how one rises after the fall.”

Support from people around him definitely helped in the recovery process.

​LawSoc has been a “good source of support and encouragement”, Mr Ravi said. He has “enjoyed tremendous support and camaraderie” from the legal fraternity as well, especially from senior lawyers.

Mr Thuraisingam said that understanding Mr Ravi’s mental condition, while difficult, has been a learning experience. He corresponds with Mr Ravi’s doctors and tries to read up about the subject.

“It is difficult and extremely stressful though, having to stay vigilant to what he does and to put in place safeguards to protect the people around him. We do, however, try our best,” he added.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Over the last few years, Mr Ravi has used the downtime to travel overseas and be more active in international human rights law and advocacy work. He took the time to give lectures, make contacts and work with foreign legal teams.

For example, he is now working with a team in Tanzania in eastern Africa on a constitutional challenge against the country’s mandatory death penalty. He is also working with environmental lawyers in Indonesia on the perennial haze issue.

With his practising certificate in hand, Mr Ravi said that he will continue to take human rights law cases that are pertinent to Singaporeans. He also recently launched a personal website and video channel to educate others on various aspects of the law.

As he moves to put his past behind him, Mr Ravi is keen to increase awareness on mental health.

“Instead of ostracising and throwing stones, we can do better by showing love, understanding and support that allows those with mental conditions to recover faster,” he said. – TODAY, 7/7/2019

An article – Which countries still have the death penalty?

  • Death penalty

Which countries still have the death penalty?

Many of the world’s nations still have the death penalty, so who’s doing the executing and how?

By Yan Zhuang

I don’t know if I deserve to live, but I do know that I don’t deserve to die, for everything and everyone around me, for the future, and for others that might be in the same predicament as I am in now.”

So wrote Pannir Selvam Pranthaman on his 32nd birthday, in a letter published by news website Malaysiakini on July 31, as he languished in a cell in Singapore’s Changi prison.

Convicted of smuggling 50 grams of cocaine, Pannir Selvam is one of at least 10 people the Singapore government is preparing to execute, with the inmates’ advocates fearing an imminent “bloodbath”.

Meanwhile, the United States government is gearing up to resume executions at a federal level for the first time in 16 years, with Attorney-General William Barr directing five inmates be put to death by lethal injection.

News of the planned killings, slated for December and January, has deepened the rift between US President Donald Trump, a staunch death penalty supporter, and Democratic politicians, who mostly oppose it.

And Sri Lanka has hired two hangmen in a bid to reboot its death penalty after a 43-year moratorium, as part of a war against drugs.

With strongmen on the rise around the world, and many countries moving to shore up their law-and-order regimes, is the death penalty making a comeback?

Which countries use the death penalty and which don’t?

Just over half the countries in the world – 106 – no longer had the death penalty by 2018, according to Amnesty International.

Another 28 have the death penalty on the books but have not executed anyone for at least the past 10 years, including Russia, South Korea and Papua New Guinea. Eight more, including Brazil and Israel, execute people only for “exceptional” crimes such as those committed under military law.

This leaves 56 countries who execute criminals.

Not including in China, more than 600 people were put to death in 2018. The highest number of executions was in China, although its actual rates of execution are a state secret. Amnesty International estimates thousands of people are executed there each year.

The next most enthusiastic practitioners were Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, which killed more than 85 people in 2018, more than any other country in South-east Asia, and which has more than 600 people on death row.

 

The United States also regularly ranks in the top five. This year so far, 10 men have been executed across five states.

Executions slowly increased annually from 2009 until 2015, when they soared from at least 1061 to 1634, according to Amnesty International. A big contributor was Pakistan lifting its moratorium on the death penalty following a terrorist attack on a school, and executing 326 people in that year alone. The numbers dropped again in 2016 and have been declining since, with 2018 recording the smallest number of estimated executions in the past 10 years.

North Korea is another unknown quantity. Reports of executions abound, although, occasionally at least, the dead come back to life. In May 2018, media worldwide reported that a high-profile government negotiator had been executed over the failure of talks between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump. However, days later, a South Korean legislator stated that the official was still alive and North Korean media published a photo of him standing beside Kim Jong-un.

What are the methods used?

Hanging was the most common in 2018, deployed in countries including Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Japan, Pakistan, Sudan and Singapore, where Melbourne man Nguyen Tuong Van was put to death for drug trafficking in 2005.

Shooting was the next most popular, used in countries including Belarus, China, Somalia, Yemen and Taiwan. Indonesia uses firing squads, as Australians witnessed with the death of drug traffickers Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan in 2015.

 

After that comes lethal injection, also used in China as well as Thailand and Vietnam and favoured by the United States, where its use has been mired in controversy.

In 2011, a drug used in executions stopped being made in the US, and its import was blocked by the country’s food and drug authority. Some states tried to obtain it illegally while others tried other drugs.

Amid a slew of lethal injection executions that critics said were botched, inmates sued states, putting executions in some places on hold for years. One inmate was granted execution by electric chair in November.

Beheading, sometimes publicly, is the main method in Saudi Arabia.

Amnesty International received two reports of women being sentenced to death by stoning for adultery in Iran but was not able to independently verify them.

Where is the death penalty being used more?

Killings in Singapore have spiked, from two inmates in 2014 to 13 last year, 11 of them for drug trafficking.

In Sri Lanka, no one has been executed for 43 years but in February, the government advertised for hangmen with “excellent moral character” after President Maithripala Sirisena signalled his determination to step up the war on drugs. The country’s last hangman, who was never pressed into service, quit in 2014.

Two new hangmen were hired in June, as Sirisena signed death warrants for four drug offenders. But the Supreme Court, which has banned any executions until October 30, is considering whether death by hanging breaches the country’s constitution by being a “cruel and degrading punishment”.

 

In Egypt, a handful of people were executed in the six years before 2014, when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power. But, between 2014 and 2018, at least 159 people were put to death, part of a broader crackdown against Islamists and supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. Reuters reported an increase in the use of military courts. Sisi is a former general.

And last year Thailand carried out its first execution since 2009 and has an estimated 551 people facing the death penalty.

Death-penalty chamber chairs before their removal from San Quentin State Prison in California, where a moratorium was placed on the death penalty in March.
Death-penalty chamber chairs before their removal from San Quentin State Prison in California, where a moratorium was placed on the death penalty in March.Credit:California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation via AP

Where is the death penalty being wound down?

Iran has killed fewer people lately. In 2015, it executed at least 977 people and in 2017 it executed more than 500, but after it removed the death penalty for some drug-related crimes the numbers halved to an estimated 253 in 2018.

Malaysia suspended the executions of inmates on death row in October but backtracked in March, saying death would no longer be a mandatory penalty for some offences but would instead be left to judges to impose.

The gang rape of a photojournalist prompted these protests in 2013. Five years later, India applied the death penalty for rapists of girls under 12.
The gang rape of a photojournalist prompted these protests in 2013. Five years later, India applied the death penalty for rapists of girls under 12.Credit:AP

What crimes attract the death penalty?

Next to murder, drug offences are the most common crime punishable by death. People were executed for drug-related crimes in China, Iran, Singapore and Saudi Arabia last year, and were sentenced in a host of countries including Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iraq, Kuwait, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Someone can be sentenced to death for economic crimes, including corruption, in China, Iran and Vietnam, and for kidnapping in Iran and Iraq. In Saudi Arabia, torture and rape are also punishable by death.

Various forms of treason and crimes against the state are punishable by death in China, Iran, Lebanon, North Korea, Saudi Arabia and under the Palestinian Authority (with most executions taking place in the Hamas-administered Gaza Strip).

Last year, India expanded the scope of its death penalty to include rape of girls under 12 years old.

In Pakistan, Christians pray for Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother on death row for blasphemy in Multan. She was acquitted.
In Pakistan, Christians pray for Asia Bibi, a Catholic mother on death row for blasphemy in Multan. She was acquitted.Credit:AP

Where does the death sentence exist, unofficially?

In a small handful of countries, the crime of blasphemy is punishable by death either by law or in practice.

In Pakistan, the case of Asia Bibi made headlines when the Christian mother of five was sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 over a dispute with some Muslim women over a glass of water, during which she was accused of making derogatory remarks against the prophet Muhammad. In October, the country’s Supreme Court acquitted her on appeal.

While this means that no one charged with blasphemy has been put to death in Pakistan, many have been murdered before their trial or after their release.

In the Philippines, the death penalty was suspended in 2006 but under President Rodrigo Duterte extrajudicial killings have been rampant.

Duterte was swept into power in 2016 after campaigning hard against drug trafficking, threatening to personally kill drug dealers and urging citizens to do the same.

The official death toll of his war on drugs is more than 5500, according to the government, but the Philippines Human Rights Commission fears as many as 27,000 people have been killed.

Duterte is now calling on the government to reinstate the death penalty for drug traffickers, with the matter being debated by the Philippines parliament.

What’s next in Singapore?

The Singaporean government does not announce executions before they happen. Executions are usually carried out at 6am on Fridays, says a Singapore writer, when most of the country is still asleep.

The fate of Pannir Selvam Pranthaman and the other inmates on death row in Changi prison remains to be seen but he is not giving up hope: “I am humbly requesting to everyone who reads this to save my life and give me a second chance.” – Sydney Morning Herald, 2/8/2019