The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) has filed a complaint to the Law Society against Singaporean international human rights lawyer M Ravi over his memo to the Malaysian government, in which he urged the Malaysian government to promptly bring the case of 30-year-old Nagaenthran s/o K Dharmalingam to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
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.
M Ravi said on Facebook today (19 Aug) that the Law Society will submit an application to the Chief Justice “to appoint a Disciplinary Tribunal in due course to investigate the complaint”.
Highlighting that he is handling Nagaenthran’s case on a pro bono basis, M Ravi 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 made “baseless” and “false” statements regarding State Prosecutors and Singapore Courts: AGC
In the complaint filed by AGC on 1 Aug and 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.
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, 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.
Malaysia has the right to take Nagaenthran’s case to ICJ: M Ravi
M Ravi previously told reporters at a joint press conference at the Lawyers For Liberty (LFL) office in Petaling Jaya on 23 Jul that according to the State’s psychiatrists’ evidence, Nagaenthran “suffers from a mild form of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder of the inattentive type where his executive functioning skills are impaired”.
“Despite these findings, the High Court Judge and the Court of Appeal opined that borderline intellectual functioning was insufficient to qualify Naga as suffering from ‘an abnormality of the mind’,” M Ravi highlighted.
M Ravi and LFL adviser N. Surendran, a Malaysian lawyer, both highlighted that while Singapore has, without reservations, signed and ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), Nagaenthran’s impending execution signals a discrepancy in the ratification of said convention and the State’s treatment of prisoners such as Nagaenthran.
“The CRPD should also protect Nagaenthran, because cruel and inhuman punishment [of PWD] is prohibited,” said M Ravi.
M Ravi also said that should direct exchanges between the two countries fail, and Singapore continues to carry out executions upon its Malaysian death row prisoners, Malaysia has the right to take Nagaenthran’s case to the ICJ.
Concurring with M Ravi’s point, Surendran said: “There is already a case to haul Singapore to the ICJ. Other countries have hauled each other [to the ICJ] for lesser reasons than this … By executing our citizens with mental problems, Malaysia has the right to do so.”
“Of course the ICJ can make rulings in order to stop [Singapore from carrying out such executions], and Singapore is obliged to comply with some of the rulings of the ICJ,” he added.
Surendran highlighted that the act of execution of a disabled person by the State serves as one of the strongest cases that would necessitate the intervention of the ICJ, in addition to warning that this issue may affect bilateral ties between Malaysia and Singapore.
“I think even on previous occasions, many of our ministers spoke up against the imminent execution of our [Malaysian] citizens [on death row in Singapore]. But now, things have taken [a turn for] the worse with Nagaenthran’s case, because it concerns a person with disabilities,” said Surendran.
M Ravi said that following Nagaenthran’s case and the string of rejected clemency petitions of Malaysian death row prisoners by Singapore, he has drafted a complaint to the ICJ on behalf of Malaysia. Malaysia’s de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong has also received the draft, he added.
Both lawyers noted that Singapore has not approved any clemency petitions since 1998, and that “hundreds” of prisoners have been executed under the death penalty, with most of them convicted for drug trafficking. Only a small number of death row prisoners were executed for murder convictions and other serious crimes.