Rights Groups Urge Singapore Not to Execute Man With Mental Disability


Human rights teams are urging Singapore to halt an execution subsequent week of a Malaysian man convicted of smuggling heroin into the city-state, arguing that he must be exempt underneath worldwide legislation as a result of he has an mental incapacity.

Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, 33, was caught in 2009 with about 1.5 ounces of heroin strapped to his thigh as he entered Singapore from Malaysia. He is scheduled to be executed by hanging on Wednesday.

The courts have rejected appeals from his attorneys, who argue that his demise sentence must be commuted as a result of he has an I.Q. of 69 and is subsequently not totally able to understanding his actions. Mr. Nagaenthran has been on demise row for greater than a decade.

The impending execution has prompted protests in Malaysia and an internet petition signed by greater than 52,000 folks imploring Singapore’s president, Halimah Yacob, to pardon Mr. Nagaenthran.

“Nagaenthran’s death sentence indicates that the Singapore judicial system is failing to protect the safety and welfare of those with disabilities,” the petition says. “Specifically, it demonstrates the systemic failure of Singapore’s criminal justice system to recognize the impact of intellectual disabilities on a person’s culpability and capacity to commit a criminal offense.”

The Singaporean authorities defended its judicial course of, saying that Mr. Nagaenthran had acquired a good trial and that the courts had thought-about mental incapacity as a protection however concluded that his “mental responsibility for his offense was not substantially impaired.”

Singapore, with a inhabitants of almost six million, is an island nation on the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is the wealthiest nation per capita in Southeast Asia.

It has lengthy been identified for its strict authorized code, together with caning for offenses like vandalism. Capital punishment is used for a variety of crimes, together with smuggling comparatively small quantities of unlawful medicine. Singapore final carried out executions in 2019, hanging 4 folks.

Credit…Courtesy of Sarmila Dharmalingam, through Associated Press

Mr. Nagaenthran was arrested at a border checkpoint when he tried to enter Singapore and the authorities found the heroin. The Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs mentioned it was sufficient to provide 510 customers for every week.

During his 2010 trial, he claimed he was coerced into carrying the medicine, however he later modified his account, saying he had tried to smuggle the heroin as a result of he wanted cash. The court docket concluded that his story of duress was fabricated and sentenced him to demise.

In 2015, he appealed to have his sentence commuted to life in jail. His attorneys argued that his I.Q. of 69, which is slightly below the internationally acknowledged threshold of 70 for figuring out whether or not somebody has an mental incapacity, made him incapable of totally understanding his actions. They additionally argued that he suffered from consideration deficit hyperactivity dysfunction and a consuming dysfunction, which affected his judgment and impulse management.

The High Court rejected this enchantment in 2017, concluding that he understood what he was doing and had the flexibility to inform proper from incorrect. The ruling was subsequently upheld by the Court of Appeal.

“The Court of Appeal found that this was the working of a criminal mind, weighing the risks and countervailing benefits associated with the criminal conduct in question, and that Nagaenthran took a calculated risk which, contrary to his expectations, materialized,” the Ministry of Home Affairs mentioned in an announcement. “It was a deliberate, purposeful and calculated decision on Nagaenthran’s part to take the chance.”

Last month, his household in Malaysia was notified that his execution had been scheduled for Nov. 10.

Death penalty opponents gathered this week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, exterior Singapore’s High Commission to protest the deliberate execution and out of doors Parliament House to urge the Malaysian authorities to intercede.

Lawyers for Liberty, a Malaysian rights group, mentioned Singapore was defying worldwide legislation and the United Nations General Assembly, which has referred to as on member international locations not to execute folks with mental disabilities.

“That Singapore is determined now to go on with this execution is shocking and sickening,” mentioned N. Surendran, an adviser at Lawyers for Liberty. “No civilized nation should resort to hanging the mentally disabled.”

Human rights teams, together with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, additionally urged Singapore to spare Mr. Nagaenthran.

“There is still time for Singapore to change course and stop this unlawful execution from taking place,” mentioned Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Singapore researcher. “Taking people’s lives is a cruel act in itself but to hang a person convicted merely of carrying drugs, amid chilling testimony that he might not even fully understand what is happening to him, is despicable.”

The Divisions of Social Justice of the American Psychiatric Association referred to as the deliberate execution “a flagrant breach” of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities, which prohibits imposing the demise penalty on folks whose psychological and mental disabilities could impede them from receiving a good trial.

“Nagaenthran is diagnosed by a qualified Singaporean psychiatrist as having mental health issues that give rise to poor impulse control, attention issues,” and different issues, the group mentioned. “As a result, he does not meet the threshold for culpability.”