Asia&Pacific

Singapore court halts the execution of man with mental disabilities

10:23, 09 November 2021
Singapore court halts the execution of man with mental disabilities Photo: pixabay.com

Singapore's High Court (the lowest instance of the Supreme Court) put on hold the execution of the sentence of 33-year-old Malaysian Nagaenthran Dharmalingam on Monday, who was sentenced to death 12 years ago for attempting to smuggle 42,7 grams of heroin.


The sentence provoked protests in Malaysia while the human rights activists across the world urged to reduce it, due to the fact that the convict has mental problems - he suffers from a lack of attention and is not able to learn effectively.

An online petition calling for Nagaenthran's death sentence to be commuted has garnered more than 65,000 signatures. The American billionaire Richard Branson supported Dharmalingam as well.

However, Singapore authorities considered that Nagaenthran was aware of what he was doing when he committed drug trafficking.

“The UN body on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities has declared that it is prohibited to impose the death penalty on people whose mental and intellectual disabilities may have prevented their effective protection,” the human rights organization Amnesty International claimed.

The defense attorney said that Dharmalingam’s IQ is less than 70 points, which is recognized by international standards as mental retardation. Five United Nations human rights experts have also joined the growing calls for Singapore to halt the execution.

“We are seriously concerned that, if the appeal is dismissed, he could still be executed imminently,” the UN experts said in a statement.

The convict's lawyers believe that he could not act fully consciously and independently, and the drug mafia shamelessly exploited him, knowing his weaknesses. Moreover, it has been argued that Dharmalingama may have been a victim of human trafficking.

“No compelling evidence exists to show that the death penalty serves as a more efficient deterrent to crime than imprisonment,” The European Union’s delegation to Singapore statement said.

Singapore has one of the harshest drug laws as the relevant law provides for the death penalty for transporting 15 grams of heroin, 30 grams of cocaine, or 500 grams of marijuana.