20,000 plead for presidential pardon over Malaysian man on death row

‘Pardon the death sentence of an intellectually disabled man’ banner. Photo: Olivia Seow/Change.org
‘Pardon the death sentence of an intellectually disabled man’ banner. Photo: Olivia Seow/Change.org

Nearly 20,000 people have signed an online petition pleading to Singapore President Halimah Yacob for clemency over an intellectually-disabled Malaysian man on death row. 

Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam was 21 when he was arrested in Singapore in 2009 and subsequently convicted for trafficking 42.72g of diamorphine, a narcotic analgesic used to treat severe pain. Now 33, Nagaenthran reportedly suffers from ADHD and has a very low IQ of 69.

He faces imminent execution on Nov. 10. 

His family was informed of the scheduled hanging two weeks ago, according to Singaporean activist-journalist Kirsten Han, who said that she has also been assisting the family with travel arrangements so that they can bid him farewell.

“Given that Nagaenthran is intellectually disabled; committed a non-violent crime; and was allegedly coerced by assaults and threats, we sincerely appeal for President Halimah Yacob to uphold Singapore’s commitment to the [United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities] by pardoning Nagaenthran’s death sentence,” the petition set up Thursday by human rights advocate Olivia Seow said. The petition also said that the Singapore justice system had failed to protect people with disabilities. 

Those who commit crimes related to more than a dozen offenses including kidnapping, murder, and drug trafficking may be sentenced to death in Singapore, with exemptions to those under 18 and pregnant. 

Rights groups such as Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, or ADPAN, and Malaysia’s Lawyers For Liberty have condemned the Singapore government’s decision to execute Nagaenthran.

“The execution of any person with mental or intellectual disabilities is extremely unconscionable and reprehensible. The person would be unlikely to have the appropriate capacity to stand trial or even appreciate the severity of their predicaments,” ADPAN executive coordinator Dobby Chew wrote Friday.

Lawyers For Liberty advisor N Surendran said in a statement: “No civilized nation should resort to hanging the mentally disabled.” 

The human rights group also urged the Malaysian authorities to save Nagaenthran from the gallows.

Other stories:

Ziggy Marley stands up for Singaporean sentenced to death for cannabis

Syed Saddiq forms a team to study medical marijuana and ketum use

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