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S'pore urged to drop bid to disbar death row prisoner's lawyer

Published
Modified 20 Aug 2019, 3:43 am

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) adviser N Surendran has urged Singapore to drop its bid to disbar human rights lawyer M Ravi.

Ravi is representing the family of Malaysian citizen D Nagaenthran, who is on death row in Changi Prison. 

The lawyer was served with the notice of action by the Singaporean attorney-general for allegedly "prejudicing the administration of justice" yesterday.

"The AG has filed a complaint on those grounds to the Singapore Law Society, which is likely to result in Ravi being barred from legal practice," Surendran said in a statement today.

"In addition, contempt of court charges may also be brought against Ravi." 

Surendran said the complaint against Ravi arose from a statement the latter issued in Malaysia during a press conference on July 23.

"Nagaenthran is an alleged drug mule whose final appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal in 2018 and is now facing the gallows. 

"Singapore is threatening to hang him despite the fact that he is mentally impaired."

Surendran said that Ravi has been fighting a vigorous battle to save Nagaenthran's life on the grounds that hanging a person who suffers from a mental disability is a breach of international legal norms.

"Singapore is notorious for prosecuting those who criticise its unfair death penalty regime which targets drug mules, while drug kingpins are free to ply their trade," he said, citing the 2010 case of British author Alan Shadrake who was jailed for criticising capital punishment in Singapore.

The LFL adviser added that Ravi was poised to lose his licence to practice law for defending a mentally impaired Malaysian citizen.

"We condemn this high-handed action against Ravi and demand that Singapore drop all charges against him. 

"We further demand that Singapore cease and desist from further threatening or interfering with the lawyers of Malaysian death row prisoners.

"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," his statement read.

In 2010, Ravi was instrumental in saving the life of Sabahan Yong Vui Kong from the gallows.

Surendran also alleged there was ongoing targeting 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 said.

Last month Singapore threatened to take action against Surendran, as the instructing solicitor for Malaysian prisoners in Changi, on a charge of scandalising their judiciary.

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