Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a Malaysian with intellectual disabilities who was convicted of drug trafficking in 2010 and whose case attracted worldwide attention, was executed at Changi Prison in Singapore.
Nagaenthran, who was arrested after police found a 42.7 gram packet of heroin strapped to his thigh, was hanged just before dawn on Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera.
The Malaysian’s execution came after the appeals court rejected a request by the 33-year-old’s mother to stop her son’s execution. The judges said his last-minute request was “vexatious”.
Last month, the court called legal efforts to save Naga’s life a “gross abuse” of legal process, and found it “inappropriate to engage in last-minute attempts or encourage them” to delay or stop an execution.
The Nagaenthran case drew worldwide attention to Singapore’s continued use of the death penalty, particularly in drug-trafficking cases, and reignited debate in the city-state itself.
Mr Ravi, a lawyer who represented Nagaenthran, expressed his grief over Wednesday’s execution on Twitter, saying: “Om Shanti, may your soul rest in peace. »
He added: “You can break us, but not defeat us. Our fight against the death penalty continues. »
“You may break us, but not defeat us. Our fight against the death penalty continues.” Om Shanti, may your soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/034zpO1ssA
— Mr. Ravi (@MRavilaw) April 26, 2022
On Monday, a few hundred people demonstrated their opposition to the death penalty by gathering in a park in Singapore. Small protests also took place outside the Singapore embassy in Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital.
The Malaysian government, experts from the United Nations, the European Union, several associations from civil society and celebrities, including Richard Branson, had also called for Naga’s life to be spared.
No one with a disability should be treated this way. Help us save him: https://t.co/0Nvyl7NmVS@reprieve @stephenfry #SaveNagaenthran #Singapore
—Richard Branson (@richardbranson) April 22, 2022
“The use of the death penalty for drug-related offenses is incompatible with international human rights law,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) wrote in a statement. calling on Singapore to suspend the execution of Naga.
“Countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty can only impose it for the ‘most serious crimes’, which is interpreted as extremely serious crimes involving intentional murder. »
Other planned executions
Singapore also plans to hang Datchinamurthy Kataiah, another Malaysian convicted of drug-related offences, on Friday in what OHCHR said appears to be “an alarming acceleration of execution notices in the country”. Abdul Kahar Othman, a Singaporean also convicted of drug offences, was hanged on March 30, the country’s first person to be executed in two years.
According to the United Nations, at least three other men convicted of drug offences, Roslan bin Bakar, Rosman bin Abdullah and Pannir Selvam Pranthaman, are at imminent risk of execution.
In a statement, Erwin van der Borght, director of the Asia-Pacific program at Amnesty International, called Nagaenthran’s execution “a disgraceful act on the part of the Singapore government” and said that it “continues a cruel path that goes against the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty.”
Singapore has one of the toughest drug laws in the world and claims the death penalty acts as a deterrent. According to the UN, more than 50 people are on death row in Singapore.
“This deterrent has been repeatedly discredited, and there is no evidence that the death penalty is more effective in reducing crime than life imprisonment,” said Amnesty’s van der Borght. “Punitive drug policies, which impose harsh penalties, have been shown to harm people rather than protect them from drug-related problems. »
Malaysia and Indonesia also impose death sentences for drug-related crimes, but Malaysia has reviewed its use in such cases and currently has a moratorium on executions.