A HUMAN RIGHTS watchdog on Tuesday called on the Singaporean authorities to halt the execution of a Malaysian man on death row as the city-state looks to implement its harshest punishment for drug trafficking.
Amnesty International said Prabagaran Srivijayan’s impending execution would be carried out amid concerns about the fairness of his trial. According to his family members last week, Prabagaran is due to be hanged to death this Friday, July 14.
Amnesty International’s director for South East Asia and the Pacific James Gomez said there was little time to save Prabagaran’s life before he is dragged to the gallows.
“The Singaporean authorities must immediately halt his execution before another person suffers this inhumane and irreversible punishment,” Gomez said in a statement.
In 2012, Prabagaran was given a mandatory death sentence following his conviction of carrying 22.24g of diamorphine, or heroin. He was arrested in April that year after Customs officials at the Woodlands checkpoint discovered the drugs in an armrest of a car he borrowed while trying to cross the border from Malaysia to Singapore.
Prabagaran has, however, consistently maintained his innocence.
According to The Online Citizen, the only way Prabagaran’s life would be spared is via presidential pardon or if he succeeds in making his appeal with the court to overturn the sentence. Presidential clemency has only been granted to a handful of people since 1965.
Prabagaran’s lawyers in March 2017 launched a case in Malaysia urging the government to seek the intervention of the International Court of Justice.
— Marilyn McKim (@MarilynInAction) July 10, 2017
Gomez said under international conventions, death row prisoners should not have the death penalty carried out against them while appeals were pending.
“The death penalty is always a violation of the human right to life, and the circumstances around this case make the Singaporean authorities’ eagerness to go ahead with the execution even more disturbing,” he said.
“Not only has Prabagaran’s legal team highlighted serious flaws in his trial, there is also an appeal on his case pending in Malaysia. Singapore would be flouting international law if it carries out this execution.”
Amnesty has questioned the way in which Singapore implements its drug laws as the burden of proof shifts from the prosecutor to the defendant in drug possession and trafficking cases.
It said this violated the right to a fair trial in international human rights law by “turning the presumption of innocence on its head.”
The watchdog said drug-related crimes did not fall under “most serious crimes” category and that international law and standards must prohibit the use of the death penalty for such cases.
— Rachel Chhoa-Howard (@rachelchhoahwd) July 10, 2017
Since Singapore ended a moratorium on executions in 2014, the authorities have executed at least 10 people, including seven for drug offences. In 2016, four people were executed – two for murder and two for drug trafficking – while at least 38 people were known to be on death row at the end of that year.
At present, 103 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 141 are abolitionist in law or practice.