Singapore court delays hanging of Malaysian man after he contracts coronavirus
The man of Indian origin was given death penalty in 2010 after he was caught with drugs. Human rights groups have urged Singapore to reconsider his execution.
A Singapore court on Tuesday postponed the execution of a Malaysian man of Indian origin after he tested positive for coronavirus, AFP reported. Judge Andrew Phang Boon Leong delayed the hanging, citing “logic, common sense, and humanity”.
Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam was sentenced to death in 2010 after he was caught crossing into Singapore with 42.72 grams of heroin. Dharamalingam had lost a series of appeals. The international human rights groups have claimed that he could not make rational decisions due to low intelligence quotient or IQ.
While the court has previously said that Dharamlingam knew what he was doing, the case will be heard again on the ground that the convict is not of sound mind, BBC reported. Dharamlingam’s lawyer, M Ravi, said that his client was a victim and should be released.
More than 60,000 people have signed a petition urging Singapore’s president to pardon Dharmalingam. The petition stated that execution of a “mentally ill person is prohibited under international human rights law”.
The United Nations on Tuesday said that countries that had death penalties imposed it only in serious crimes, Al Jazeera reported. It added that contraband drugs-related offences did not “meet the threshold” of serious crimes.
“Resorting to this type of punishment to prevent drug trafficking is not only illegal under international law, it is also ineffective,” the UN said in a statement. “There is a lack of any persuasive evidence that the death penalty contributes more than any other punishment to eradicating drug trafficking.”
On Tuesday, Amnesty International urged the Singapore government to reconsider Dharamlingam’s death sentence.
“There is wide evidence of multiple human rights violations including deep concerns about Nagaenthran’s mental capacity and current health condition, which would render his execution unlawful, and must be fully addressed,” said Amnesty International’s Singapore researcher Rachel Chhoa-Howard.
Singapore has enforced death penalty on people found carrying drugs into the country until 2012. It amended the law allowing the courts to give life sentences to people found with small quantities of drugs. The city-state has not carried any executions since 2019.