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News : Media release

APF statement on the planned execution of Malaysian national Nagaenthran Dharmalingam

Graphic: Nagaenthran Dharmalingam

The APF is calling on the Singapore Government to immediately halt the planned execution of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam.

Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APF) joins an expanding group of governments and civil society organisations in calling on the Singapore Government to immediately halt the execution of Malaysian national, Nagaenthran Dharmalingam.

Mr Nagaenthran, who has an intellectual disability, is scheduled to be executed at Singapore’s Changi Prison this Wednesday, 10 November 2021, more than ten years after his conviction for a drug trafficking offence.

“The death penalty is cruel and inhumane, and has no impact on deterring crime,” said Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher, APF Chairperson.

“Executing a person with an intellectual disability is particularly egregious and is inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to which Singapore is a signatory,” she said. 

As a coalition of 25 National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific, the APF has a mandate to protect and promote human rights across the region. Although Singapore does not have its own NHRI, the APF has made recommendations at the regional level to ensure that persons with intellectual disabilities are formally excluded or protected from the imposition of the death penalty.  

In its latest report, the APF’s Advisory Council of Jurists (ACJ) identifies “a greater acceptance of the need to exclude persons with a mental illness or intellectual disability from the application of the death penalty”. 

“The arduous and tormenting process of capital punishment is in itself a form of torture inflicted on the convicted,” said Ms Karen Gomez Dumpit, Focal Commissioner on the Abolition of the Death Penalty at the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines.

“All crimes must be punished through an efficient and incorrupt justice system. The death penalty can breed more problems and do more harm without resolving what it purports to stop in the first place,” she said. 

A state that makes killing a form of punishment loses the moral ground to stop killings. The obligation to deliver justice must not breed further injustice

Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines Logo Ms Karen Gomez Dumpit, Focal Commissioner on the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Ms Paula Tesoriero, New Zealand Disability Rights Commissioner and Chair of the Working Group on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions referred to a statement in support from the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities which affirms that "the duty to refrain from imposing the death penalty on persons with intellectual or psychosocial disability is grounded on the disproportionate and discriminatory denial of fair trial guarantees and procedural accommodations to them and not on grounds of perceived lack of legal capacity due to limited mental capacity."

Date: 8 November 2021

Media contact: Amy Janowski, APF Communications and Networking Officer (amyjanowski@asiapacificforum.net)