Tag Archives: Singapore

Singapore: Halt executions and cease punitive cost orders against death-row lawyers

09/08/22

Singapore’s authorities must immediately halt any impending executions, and cease using punitive cost orders against lawyers representing death-row inmates, said the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) today.

On 5 August 2022, Singapore executed two persons, Abdul Rahim Shapiee and Ong Seow Ping, for “drug possession for the purpose of trafficking”. Their execution followed the Court of Appeal’s denial of Abdul Rahim Shapiee’s stay of execution request based on a lawsuit he and 23 other death-row inmates had filed alleging obstructions in their access to lawyers.

“The death penalty is wholly incompatible with human rights and the Rule of Law. The Singapore government has stepped up the number of executions this year with ten people executed so far,” said ICJ Commissioner Ambiga Sreenevasan. “Singapore and all other countries that continue to impose capital punishment must revisit their position.”

Executions constitute a violation of the right to life and are the ultimate cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment. While the ICJ opposes the death penalty under any circumstances, international law and standards on the use of the death penalty are clear that it may never be imposed upon a conviction for drug offences since such offences, in turn, do not involve “intentional killing”, the international law threshold for capital crimes.

The ICJ is also deeply concerned about reports of punitive cost orders against lawyers who have represented clients on death row. Singaporean courts have imposed such orders against lawyers of death-row inmates because they had filed late-stage applications to the courts on behalf of their clients, purportedly on the basis that these applications were “frivolous, vexatious or an abuse of process”.

For instance, on 23 June 2022, the High Court ordered two lawyers to pay the Attorney-General SG$20,000 (approx. US$14,500) in costs for a failed application on behalf of 17 death-row inmates who alleged that, as ethnic minorities, they were more likely to be investigated, prosecuted and sentenced to the death penalty for drug offences. The High Court held that the application lacked basis, and was an abuse of process, and that its lack of merit would have been apparent to “reasonable and competent counsel”.

The imposition of punitive cost orders has obstructed death-row inmates’ access to justice and effective remedies, their right to legal counsel — with several having had to represent themselves in court — and, in turn, their right to a fair trial and, ultimately, their right to life. Notably, the 24 death-row inmates who filed the lawsuit on 1 August 2022 were unable to secure legal representation despite approaching several lawyers, as the lawyers were allegedly afraid of adverse cost orders.

[…]

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/apex-court-throws-out-civil-suit-by-24-death-row-inmates-alleging-right-to-counsel-violated

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/8/5/singapore-executions-under-scrutiny-as-more-hanged-for-drugs

https://news.un.org/en/story/2022/08/1123852

https://www.ohchr.org/en/statements/2022/08/comment-un-human-rights-office-spokesperson-liz-throssell-executions-singapore

https://www.malaysianow.com/news/2022/08/08/a-conversation-with-charles-yeo-singapores-latest-dissident-in-exile

https://www.wsj.com/articles/pace-of-executions-in-singapore-stirs-debate-over-death-penalty-for-drug-crimes-11659414366

https://www.singaporelawwatch.sg/Headlines/High-Court-upholds-dismissal-of-misconduct-charge-against-lawyer-M-Ravi

https://www.csmonitor.com/Daily/2022/20220808/Singapore-s-death-penalty-Is-there-room-for-compassion

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/7/22/singapore-carries-out-fifth-execution-since-march

https://www.malaysianow.com/news/2022/08/02/court-gives-same-day-deadline-to-lawyerless-inmates-after-invoking-familiar-abuse-of-process-on-suit

Singapore: Lawyer Charles Yeo fails to turn up to represent client in trial, said to be seeking asylum in UK

01/08/22

 Lawyer Charles Yeo Yao Hui, 31, who is also the former chairman of the Reform Party, failed to turn up in a district court on Monday morning (Aug 1) to represent his client in a trial involving immigration-related matters.

In a post on social media platform Instagram last Saturday, Yeo had stated that he intended to go to the United Kingdom to seek political asylum.

Yeo, who was earlier charged with unrelated offences including multiple counts of harassment and wounding the religious feeling of Christians, was given permission last month to leave Singapore for Vietnam to meet a witness linked to Monday’s trial.

He was then offered bail of $10,000, with his mother acting as the bailor.

He was also allowed to leave Singapore last Wednesday and was supposed to arrive here on Saturday.

But a district court heard on Monday that he had not returned to Singapore.

Immigration and Checkpoints Authority prosecutor Syed Mubaruk Sabedeen, who is handling the trial involving Yeo’s client, told District Judge Marvin Bay that Yeo’s current whereabouts are unknown.

Deputy Superintendent Mubaruk said that Yeo claimed to be in the UK but the prosecution was unsure if this was “the truth or a myth”.

Yeo’s client, Kok Chiang Loong, 41, who is accused of offences including playing a role in a purported marriage of convenience, told Judge Bay that Yeo had promised to turn up in court on Monday.

Kok also said that he had tried to contact Yeo but the calls failed to connect and there was no dial tone.

Kok added that he tried sending Yeo text messages but received no replies.

The court heard that he managed to contact S K Kumar Law Practice, where Yeo works, but was told that he did not turn up at the office on Monday morning.

[…]

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/lawyer-charles-yeo-fails-to-turn-up-to-represent-client-in-trial-said-to-be-seeking-asylum-in-uk

https://www.malaymail.com/news/singapore/2022/08/01/former-chairman-of-singapores-reform-party-seeking-political-asylum-in-the-uk/20413

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/lawyer-charles-yeo-political-asylum-uk-reform-party-1957966

https://learningfromthemargins.substack.com/p/accesstojustice

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/charles-yeo-political-asylum-uk-reform-party-2849466

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/charles-yeo-lawyers-liberty-appeal-death-sentence-drug-trafficking-pay-costs-2838721

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Yeo

https://www.swissinfo.ch/spa/singapur-pena-de-muerte_m%C3%A1s-de-20-presos-del-corredor-de-la-muerte-presentan-denuncia-contra-singapur/47795354 (ESPANOL)

https://www.8world.com/singapore/lawyer-charles-yeo-political-asylum-uk-reform-party-1875931 (CHINESE)

Singaporean scheduled for execution named witness in probe against prominent lawyer

20/07/22

Lawyer M Ravi says Nazeri Lajim, whose execution is fixed for this Friday, is a crucial witness in an ongoing investigation.

An investigation launched by Singapore authorities against a prominent human rights lawyer has created some hope for the life of death row inmate Nazeri Lajim, just two days before his execution scheduled for this Friday.

On Oct 5 last year, M Ravi wrote on behalf of Nazeri and 16 Malay inmates whom he represented in an ethnic bias suit against the government, in a letter urging the attorney-general to cite Home Minister K Shanmugam for contempt over comments in parliament criticising the suit.

This was followed by a notice from the police, informing him that he was being investigated for various offences.

In May this year, Ravi learnt that the investigation against him was based on a complaint that he had not received instructions from the 17 inmates including Nazeri when he wrote the letter to the AG.

Ravi today wrote to the Court of Appeal, naming Nazeri as a witness whose testimony was crucial in the investigation against him.

“It should be noted that subject matter of my Oct 5 letter was a statement made by the Law and Home Minister K Shanmugam who is directly responsible for Changi Prison which schedules executions. 

“In these circumstances, I am constrained to ask in the interests of justice that the court exercise its inherent powers to safeguard the administration of justice by ordering a stay of the scheduled execution of Nazeri Lajim pending the completion of the police investigation,” Ravi said in his email.

The Court of Appeal today directed the government to respond to Ravi’s request by 10am tommorrow. 

Nazeri, 64, is slated to be executed on July 22 despite appeals for clemency by his family which had included a desperate bid for a presidential pardon. 

Nazeri was one of 17 death row inmates who had filed a historic suit against the government, accusing it of discrimination and bias in their prosecution due to their Malay ethnicity.

[…]

https://www.malaysianow.com/news/2022/07/20/in-twist-singaporean-scheduled-for-execution-named-witness-in-probe-against-prominent-lawyer

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/high-court-dismisses-misconduct-charge-lawyer-m-ravi-comments-death-penalty-case-1897141

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/624363

https://www.malaysianow.com/news/2022/05/25/history-will-be-with-me-singapore-cj-told-in-court-as-death-row-lawyers-slapped-with-costs

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/m-ravi-court-order-pay-costs-death-row-inmates-ethnic-bias-2765996

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/7/death-penalty-the-singapore-lawyer

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M_Ravi

Malaysian lawyer detained, questioned for hours by Singapore police

07/07/22

A Malaysian lawyer has accused Singapore of “dangerously claiming extra-territorial jurisdiction over Malaysian citizens” after being detained upon arrival at the city-state this week, where he was subjected to hours of interrogation by the police over a statement he had issued in Malaysia.

Zaid Malek, who is part of Malaysian rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), had travelled to Singapore to assist Malaysian death row inmate Kalwant Singh in the latter’s application for a stay order for his execution, which was carried out early today.

Zaid said he was subjected to “calculated intimidation and harassment” by authorities in Singapore, including two sessions with the police and a warning not to leave the country until the investigation against him was complete.

“In total, I was subjected to about four hours of detention at the airport, about three and a half hours of interrogation at the police complex.

“As a result of this police probe against me from July 4 to 6, 2022, I was obstructed and hampered in assisting and advising Kalwant Singh’s family in the crucial days before his court hearing and execution,” Zaid said in a statement issued after his return to Kuala Lumpur.

He said the investigation was over a statement he had issued in Malaysia on behalf of LFL on the plight of two Malaysian prisoners in the city-state – Gobi Avedian and Datchinamurty Katiah, whose suits were dismissed.

Zaid said he was accused of contempt of court, an offence punishable by three years’ imprisonment and a fine of S$100,000.

“I was interrogated for two and a half hours, during which detailed questions were asked about the organisation and other details of Lawyers for Liberty,” he added.

“My detention and interrogation were acts of calculated intimidation and harassment by the Singapore authorities against me due to my work in representing Malaysian death row prisoners and speaking out against the injustices involving Malaysian prisoners in Singapore’s death penalty regime. 

“The actions of the authorities against me prevented me as a lawyer from properly discharging my duties to my clients. 

[…]

https://www.malaysianow.com/news/2022/07/07/malaysian-lawyer-detained-questioned-for-hours-by-singapore-police

https://www.thevibes.com/articles/news/65314/lawyers-for-liberty-director-slams-singapore-for-intimidation-in-kalwant-case

https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/385985

Stop harassing rights lawyer, Singapore govt told

05/05/22

The Singaporean government must stop intimidating and harassing Singapore human rights lawyer M Ravi, a rights group said.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) chief coordinator Zaid Malek said Singaporean authorities had responded to Ravi’s outspokenness on human rights with disciplinary, police and contempt proceedings against him.

In a statement, Zaid said the action was being taken against Ravi for his staunch defence of the human rights of drug mules on death row, including many Malaysian citizens.

He said Ravi had for decades provided pro bono service to countless persons and spoken out on human rights in Singapore as well as the rights of Malaysians deprived of fair trial in Singapore.

According to LFL, Ravi faces seven professional disciplinary inquiries which could result in him being fined, suspended or disbarred, and three ongoing contempt of court proceedings, as well as separate police investigations.

“The number of pending cases launched by the government, the attorney-general and the courts is immeasurable,” Zaid said.

The proceedings include action taken against Ravi for his vigorous defence of mentally disabled Malaysian Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam, who was executed amid international outcry last week, Zaid said.

[…]

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2022/05/05/stop-harassing-rights-lawyer-singapore-govt-told/

https://www.lawyersforliberty.org/2022/05/05/lfl-singapore-government-must-stop-the-intimidation-harassment-of-human-rights-lawyer-m-ravi-over-his-outspoken-defence-of-malaysian-death-row-prisoners-in-singapore/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M_Ravi

Singapore/Malaysia: Surendran urges Singapore to drop charges against lawyer defending Malaysian on death row

August 20, 2019

International Human Rights lawyer M. Ravi speaks during a press conference in Petaling Jaya July 23, 2019. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

Lawyers for Liberty legal adviser N. Surendran today urged Singaporean authorities to stop persecuting lawyer M. Ravi, who is representing mentally challenged Malaysian death row inmate Nagaenthran Dharmalingam.

Singapore’s Attorney General had initiated action against Ravi by filing a complaint with the Singapore Law Society for allegedly “prejudicing the administration of justice”.

“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. In addition, contempt of court charges may also be brought against him.

“We condemn this high-handed action against M. Ravi and demand that Singapore drops all charges against him. We further demand that Singapore cease and desist from further threatening or interfering with the lawyers of the 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,’’ said Surendran in a statement today.

Surendran had previously likened Singapore’s treatment of those in death row to that of North Korea, claiming it has forgone norms that are observed under the international law and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/08/20/surendran-urges-singapore-to-drop-charges-against-lawyer-defending-malaysia/1782338

https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/176928

https://www.msn.com/en-sg/news/national/group-slams-charges-against-lawyer-of-malaysian-on-death-row-in-singapore/ar-AAG32kN

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/08/20/drop-charges-against-lawyer-representing-malaysian-on-death-row-singapore-told

AGC files complaint to Law Society against M Ravi for ICJmemo to Malaysian government over drug mule Nagaenthran’scase

Lawyer M Ravi speaks to ABC News Australia regarding Singapore’s latest “execution binge”

AGC files complaint to Law Society against M Ravi for ICJ memo to Malaysian government over drug mule Nagaenthran’s case

https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/m-ravi-returns-law-practice-after-reality-jolt-spurred-high-profile-incidents

International human rights lawyer, M Ravi gets back his practising certificate after four years

https://www.thesundaily.my/local/move-to-disbar-death-row-inmate-s-lead-counsel-in-singapore-CA1288631

Group slams charges against lawyer of Malaysian on death row in Singapore

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/488662

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M_Ravi

Singapore/Malaysia: Withdraw ‘unacceptable threat’ to Surendran, S’pore told

July 16, 2019

Lawyers For Liberty has reacted sharply to what it calls “threats made by the Singapore authorities against lawyer N Surendran.”

This comes after the Singapore Attorney-General’s Chambers sent a letter to its High Court saying that Surendran had made “scandalous allegations against Singapore and its legal system, including accusing Singapore of acting in total disregard of international legal norms and decent world opinion.”

“Coming from the attorney-general’s office in a formal note to the High Court, this amounts to a serious threat against Surendran,” LFL director Melissa Sasidaran said in a statement.

“Singapore is notorious for bringing contempt of court or criminal defamation charges against its critics. British author Alan Shadrake was similarly prosecuted and jailed in 2011 for making remarks on the death penalty in Singapore.”

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/483934

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/07/16/lfl-alleges-singapore-threat-against-lawyer-for-malaysians-on-death-row/1771776

Group accuses Singapore AG of meddling ahead of clemency plea for Malaysian on death row

https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/168595

Singapore denies targeting Malaysians for capital punishment

Lawyers For Liberty push for moratorium on Malaysian death row prisoners in Singapore, urge for “thorough” review on clemency rejections

https://www.officeparrots.com/single-post/2016/07/08/7-Malaysian-Human-Rights-Lawyers-You-Should-Know

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N._Surendran

HOME

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/bahasa/2019/07/16/peguam-dakwa-ag-singapura-campur-tangan-usaha-tahanan-hukuman-mati-mohon-rayuan/ (MALAY)

https://www.sinarharian.com.my/article/38024/BERITA/Nasional/Singapura-digesa-tarik-balik-tuduhan-terhadap-Surendran (MALAY)

Malaysia/Singapore: Singaporean human rights lawyer seeks UN intervention against contempt charges levied upon Malaysian lawyer Arun Kasi

March 5, 2019

The recent news of Arun Kasi, a Malaysian lawyer facing contempt charges for allegedly scandalising the judiciary in relation to 2 articles he wrote on Aliran- a news  website covering issues of social importance, should come as a jolt at the heart of civil society.

The 2 articles- titled ‘How a dissenting judgment sparked a major judicial crisis’ and ‘Tommy Thomas must look into arbitration centre that sparked judicial crisis’ prompted Tommy Thomas, the Attorney General of Malaysia to institute committal proceedings in the Federal Court of Malaysia against Arun on 27th February 2019. Leave was granted by the Federal Court and the substantive hearing has been fixed for 13th March 2019 on an urgent basis.

In my view, the AG ought to reconsider his view to initiate contempt proceedings against Arun for the following reasons:

  1. The Proceedings represent an incursion into the independence of the Bar and impedes professional advocacy

Arun’s articles were written in the context of an expunction order made by the Federal Court, by which various constitutional observations made by a Court of Appeal judge in relation to an institution playing a role in administration of justice and also a direction made by the judge to the anti-corruption commission to investigate the matter were expunged. This case raises issues of serious public interest and importance, and the proceedings initiated against Arun for bringing these issues to the attention of the public seriously threatens the independence of the Bar and impedes professional advocacy.

Further, the UN Basic Principles on the Roles of Lawyers (“UNBRPL”) contains several provisions that explicitly deal with the independence of lawyers. Principle 16 of the UNBRPL sets out that the Government must: ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their duties without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference… (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognised professional duties, standards and ethics. Principle 23 grants lawyers the right to take part in public discussion on matters of the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights.

https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2019/03/05/singaporean-human-rights-lawyer-seeks-un-intervention-against-contempt-charges-levied-against-malaysian-lawyer-arun-kasi/

https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/466681

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/03/02/bar-to-take-stand-on-2-lawyers-facing-contempt-charges/

https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2019/03/13/apex-court-dismisses-arun-kasis-bid-to-stop-contempt-proceedings/1732276

https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2019/03/08/arun-kasi-challenging-ags-move-to-frame-contempt-of-court-case/

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/02/27/contempt-proceedings-against-lawyer-arun-kasi-over-hamid-affidavit-articles-in-aliran/

Singapore: Criminal and Human Rights Lawyer Fined $6,000 for a Poem on Death Penalty that “Scandalised the Judicary”

August 7, 2017

Mr Eugene Thuraisingam, a prominent criminal and human rights lawyer, was found guilty of contempt of court and fined $6,000 by Justice See Kee Oon in the High Court earlier today for a poem he penned. The poem, which concerned the “cruel and unjust law” (i.e. Misuse of Drugs Act) that led to the hanging of Mr Thuraisingam’s client, Ridzuan, was published on his Facebook page a few hours before Ridzuan’s execution at 6am on 19 May 2017.

Our five stars dim tonight.
Our son will be no more.
Killed at the hands of strangers.
At the orders of those who do not care.

Our five stars dim tonight.
For a cruel and unjust law.
The fate of a life, in the hands of one.
Who himself doesn’t really care.

Our five stars dim tonight.
With our million dollar men turned blind. 
Pretending not to see.
Ministers, Judges and Lawyers. 
Same as the accumulators of wealth.
Hiding in the dimness, like rats scavenging for scraps.
When does the new car come?

Our five stars dim tonight.
For a law that makes no sense.
A law that is cruel and unjust. 
Just as its makers, executors stand.
Jeffrey has died. Ridzuan is next.
Killed not in our names, but by the decree of one.

Fear not my friend, we tread through this darkness.
The sons of this soil have spoken.
Regardless of race. Regardless of language. Regardless of religion.
As our lungs shout as one, the stars will shine again!

The people have spoken.

The underlined parts were found to be in contempt of court. In the AGC’s opinion, the excerpt, when read by the average reasonable man, would be interpreted to mean that judges have subordinated their judicial duty to financial greed. The defence revealed that on 29 May, the AGC requested the Law Society to refer Mr Thuraisingam to a Disciplinary Tribunal. The Law Society who then informed Mr Thuraisingam that the AGC found his poem to be in contempt.

https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2017/08/07/criminal-and-human-rights-lawyer-fined-6000-for-a-poem-on-death-penalty-that-scandalised-the-judicary/

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/lawyer-eugene-thuraisingam-fined-s-6-000-for-contempt-of-court-9099504

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/lawyer-fined-6000-for-contempt-of-court-over-facebook-post-on-death-penalty

http://www.tnp.sg/news/singapore/lawyer-eugene-thuraisingam-rare-case-court-contempt

https://thuraisingam.com/

https://thuraisingam.com/our_peoples/eugene-thuraisingam/

Singapore: M Ravi’s HDB flat to be foreclosed – Help required

July 21, 2017

Human rights lawyer M Ravi has been hospitalised since 17 July (he is still in hospital).

On the day that he was hospitalised – he was supposed to appear in court as the bank mortgagee had sued to foreclose on his 3-room HDB flat, for the arrears of $7,452.

Although the mortgagee’s lawyers were informed by telephone on that day that he was hospitalised and a letter was sent two days later (19 July) attaching medical documentary evidence that he was unable to attend court on that day (17 July)  – the court replied on 20 July that “In the morning of 17 July 2017, Summons 2375 of 2017 was dismissed and judgement was granted to the Plaintiff”.

M Ravi has been fighting for so many constitutional law cases (such as the Hougang by-election – whether the Government must hold a by-election, the amendment to the Elected Presidency, etc); as well as fully or partly pro bono for so many cases, like Roy Ngerng’s defamation suit, Han Hui Hui’s illegal demonstration and public nuisance at Hong Lim park, several death penalty cases, etc.

I believe he has never asked for funding for himself, but only for Singaporeans – like his recent fund raising to challenge the amendment to the Elected Presidency.

https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2017/07/21/m-ravis-hdb-flat-to-be-foreclosed-help-required/

https://www.theonlinecitizen.com/2017/07/16/the-fall-of-m-ravi/

http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/m-ravis-appeal-on-elected-presidency-to-be-heard-on-july-31

http://www.connectedtoindia.com/non-practising-lawyer-m-ravi-rapped-for-misusing-court-as-platform-for-political-point-scoring-2134.html