Lawyers for Liberty refers to the Singapore Court of Appeal’s decision on 29 March dismissing mentally disabled Malaysian citizen Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s legal challenges against his death sentence.
We are shocked that the courts even refused to allow an independent psychiatric assessment of Nagaenthran’s current mental state or fitness to be executed. The court went so far as to brand this reasonable request as a “blatant and egregious abuse of the court process”.
The decision by the Singapore courts is in utter disregard of Singapore’s clear obligation under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to ensure that no persons suffering from mental disabilities are sentenced to death. The affidavit filed in support of the said application has raised legitimate concerns regarding Nagaenthran’s deteriorating mental psyche, which warrants a psychiatric evaluation and cannot be construed as an abuse to the court processes. In fact, the application itself is crucial to ensure that Singapore comes in line with its obligation under the convention.
Not only have they outrightly allowed a violation of international law, but the courts have also attacked the lawyers for bringing up Nagaenthran’s case. The court itself instructed the Singapore Attorney General Chambers to seek costs from Nagaenthran’s lawyers for filing the legal challenges. It is sickening conduct that runs contrary to the rule of law of any civilised nation when lawyers are penalised for daring to raise an issue on a matter of life and death.
We urge Malaysia at this critical point, to step in and take this matter to the International Court of Justice for having blatantly violated their treaty obligation under international law. The Singapore government must be held responsible for wilfully ignoring its international obligation to the detriment of our own citizen.
Zaid Malek is chief coordinator of Lawyers for Liberty