Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, a mentally disabled Malaysian, was executed on Tuesday by Singaporean authorities for drug trafficking.
Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam, otherwise known as Naga, had been waiting on death row for over 10 years. He had indeed been arrested in 2009 for trafficking a small amount of heroin, about 40 grams, while Singapore applies one of the toughest drug laws in the world.
He had therefore been sentenced to death a year later, and this decision had raised many criticisms and questions because of his intellectual disability. The United Nations and the European Union strongly criticized this death sentence.
His supporters claim he had an IQ of 69, a level recognized as a disability, and that he committed the crime under duress.
strong reactions from NGOs and international institutions
In a statement issued last November, UN justice experts said: “We are concerned that Mr. Nagaenthran K. Dharmalingam did not have access to procedural accommodations for his disability during his questioning. We further emphasize that death sentences should not be carried out on persons with severe psychosocial and intellectual disabilities”.
Despite the numerous legal actions that have been taken by Naga’s lawyers over the past ten years, he was executed on Wednesday by hanging. “It is incredible that Singapore carried out the execution despite international appeals to spare his life,” the death row inmate’s sister said from Malaysia. “We are extremely saddened by the execution of our brother and the family is in shock.”
Several human rights NGOs campaigning against the death penalty around the world have condemned the penalty. “Nagaenthran’s execution is a disgraceful act on the part of the Singapore government – carried out without mercy despite widespread protests in Singapore and Malaysia and an outcry around the world,” said the Asia Pacific Regional Director. of Amnesty International, Erwin van der Borght, in a press release.
After a hiatus of more than two years, Singapore resumed executions last month, with the hanging of another convicted drug smuggler. Activists now fear authorities could embark on a wave of hangings, with several other death row inmates having recently had their appeals dismissed.