Crime & Justice

23 death row prisoners sue Singapore government for denial of justice

Singapore, Aug 1 (EFE).- A total 23 prisoners on death row in Singapore filed a collective suit Monday against the government of the city-state and the public prosecutor’s office, claiming having been denied access to justice.

The prisoners, assisted by their family and friends, filed the “historic” suit on Monday, the nonprofit Transformative Justice Collective’s coordinator Kirsten Han confirmed to EFE.

Among other issues, the prisoners denounce obstacles to hiring defense lawyers, partly due to the lawyers’ “fear” of the high administrative costs imposed on them when making appeals in cases of capital punishment.

This fear has deterred lawyers from assisting them, thereby undermining their right to have access to justice, according to activist Kokila Annamalai in a social media commentary, claiming that this leads convicts to represent themselves on many occasions.

Last week, the court of appeal ordered lawyer Charles Yeo and the Malaysian nonprofit Lawyers for Liberty to pay a total of $5,000 Singaporean dollars ($3,630) for their unsuccessful attempts to stop the execution of two drug traffickers who were eventually executed.

Currently, only a handful of lawyers take up cases of prisoners on death row.

The collective suit comes at a time when Singapore has accelerated the pace of executions after a two year gap due to the Covid-19 pandemic that has resulted in an increase in convicts on death row, according to activists.

Two executions are scheduled on Tuesday, and two others are on Friday. Six prisoners have been executed since March, all for drug trafficking, among them marijuana.

Singapore has one of the most draconian drug laws on the planet that includes hanging as punishment for trafficking in more than 15 grams of heroin, 30 grams of cocaine, 500 grams of cannabis and 250 grams of methamphetamine. EFE


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