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.