KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has demanded the Singapore government withdraw its threat to initiate criminal proceedings against a prominent human rights lawyer who is acting on behalf of two Malaysians on death row in Changi Prison.
Its director Melissa Sasidaran and adviser N. Surendran said this followed the decision by the Singapore High Court to stay the executions of convicted drug mules Datchinamurthy Kataiah and Gobi Avedian, after it was disclosed that executions in Changi Prison are allegedly carried in an “unlawful” manner whenever the rope snaps.
“Yesterday afternoon, during a hearing in the High Court for the case filed by the two Malaysians, the Singaporean Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) launched an attack upon lawyer M. Ravi, telling the Court that they ‘expressly reserve all rights against Mr Ravi’,” Melissa and Surendran said in a joint statement.
Describing the Singapore AGC’s actions as a proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over Ravi’s head, Melissa and Surendran said the former has since refused to withdraw its threat, despite repeated requests from the lawyer.
“Singapore has a range of oppressive laws at its disposal to use against M. Ravi, and has a long track record of intimidating or charging critics of its brutal death penalty regime.
“For such a threat to be made against a lawyer defending prisoners facing execution is shocking and unprecedented, even for a notoriously intolerant country such as Singapore,” they said.
The attempt to intimidate Ravi is merely to suppress or cover up the truth about the unlawful and brutal method of administering kicks to the necks of prisoners when carrying out executions, according to the duo.
“Singaporean authorities appear fearful of the facts that may emerge in the course of this case, including the expected testimony of the former Singapore prison officer who had exposed the ‘neck-breaking’ method.
“The threat to M. Ravi is a blatant breach of prisoners’ constitutional right to a fair trial, as the two Malaysians cannot expect a fair hearing in the Singaporean High Court of their bid to halt their executions if the threat of criminal or punitive proceedings is kept hanging over their lawyer’s head,” they said.
Melissa and Surendran also argued that in threatening to initiate criminal proceedings against Ravi, the Singapore government is breaching Article 9 of the country’s Constitution which guarantees the right to a fair hearing since tampering with a prisoner’s counsel is a direct violation thereof.
“In addition Singapore is in breach of Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights which guarantees the right to a fair hearing. Singapore is bound to respect this principle as it is a member state of the United Nations.
“We urge the Singapore government to immediately withdraw the threat against M. Ravi, and to guarantee the right to a fair hearing for the two Malaysians. Singapore must also stop all further attempts to cover-up the truth about the ‘neck-breaking’ disclosures made last month by LFL. Instead, they must carry out a fair and impartial investigation into the allegations,” they said.