Singapore: Malaysian facing imminent execution for drugs conviction after unfair trial

The Singaporean authorities must halt the imminent execution of a Malaysian man convicted of importing drugs amid serious concerns about the fairness of his trial, Amnesty International said today.
Prabagaran Srivijayan’s execution has been scheduled for this Friday, 14 July 2017, according to his family who were informed last week. Prabagaran Srivijayan was convicted of drug trafficking and given a mandatory death sentence in 2012 after 22.24g of diamorphine was found in the arm rest of a car he borrowed. He has consistently maintained his innocence.
“There are only four days left to save Prabagaran Srivijayan’s life before he is cruelly dragged to the gallows. The Singaporean authorities must immediately halt his execution before another person suffers this inhumane and irreversible punishment,” said James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for South East Asia and the Pacific.
Prabagaran Srivijayan’s legal team have raised serious concerns about the fairness of his trial, including the authorities’ failure to follow up leads and call on key witnesses that would corroborate his version of events.
His legal representatives also launched a case in Malaysia in March 2017 to urge the country to seek the intervention of the International Court of Justice, with an appeal on the matter still being considered at the Court of Appeal. International safeguards for death row prisoners clearly state that the death penalty must not be carried out while appeals are pending.
“The death penalty is always a violation of the human right to life, and the circumstances around this case make the Singaporean authorities’ eagerness to go ahead with the execution even more disturbing,” said James Gomez.
“Not only has Prabagaran Srivijayan’s legal team highlighted serious flaws in his trial, there is also an appeal on his case pending in Malaysia. Singapore would be flaunting international law if this execution is carried out.”
Under Singaporean law, when there is a presumption of drug possession and trafficking, the burden of proof shifts from the prosecutor to the defendant. This violates the right to a fair trial in international human rights law by turning the presumption of innocence on its head.
Drug-related offences do not meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes” to which the use of the death penalty must be restricted under international law and standards, which also prohibit the imposition of the death penalty as a mandatory punishment.
Since Singapore ended a moratorium on executions in 2014, the authorities have executed at least ten people, including seven for drug trafficking. In 2016, four people were executed – two for murder and two for drug trafficking – while at least 38 people were known to be on death row at the end of that year.
Amnesty International opposes the use of the death penalty outright, regardless of the crime. As of today 103 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes and 141 are abolitionist in law or practice.
For more information, please contact Sue Montgomery, media relations for Amnesty International Canada, at 613-744-7667 ext 236 or