PETALING JAYA: N Surendran has slammed the practice in Singapore which has death-row inmates take part in a photoshoot “a day or two” before they are sent to the gallows, labelling it “inhumane”.
The lawyer who represented the family of S Prabagaran, the Malaysian who was hanged in Singapore for drug trafficking, also said the act was morbid.
“It shows the harshness of Singaporean authorities to treat a person like that. They (death-row inmates) are not dolls,” he told FMT.
He was asked to comment on a tweet by We Believe in Second Chances co-founder Kirsten Han who uploaded a picture of a smiling Prabagaran.
“This was taken of Prabagaran this week as part of the pre-execution prison photoshoot. Photos are then given to the family,” she wrote.
In a subsequent tweet, Han said that while the practice seemed morbid, she had heard that some relatives find it comforting to have photos of loved ones “out of prison garb”.
Human rights activist Michelle Yesudas said although a smiling photo might be some comfort to a grieving family, staging a pre-execution photoshoot is insensitive to the grief and anguish one has to endure when on death row.
“The death penalty and a pre-execution photo shoot are archaic, morbid and inhumane practices that have no place in the modern world,” she said.
Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said it is unusual and “weird” for a country to have such a practice.
“It’s a bit unusual for me, but every country has its own jurisdiction,” said Paulsen.
Channel NewsAsia reported that Prabagaran was executed at Changi Prison on Friday morning after he was convicted in 2012 for being in possession of 22.24g of diamorphine, a pure form of heroin.
Authorities discovered the drug in his car at the Singaporean immigration checkpoint as he tried to enter the country.
Prabagaran said he was innocent, claiming that he did not own the car and was not aware of the drugs being in it.
Earlier this year, he turned to the Malaysian courts to compel the government to start legal proceedings against Singapore before an international tribunal for denying him a fair trial.
On March 24, Prabagaran failed to obtain leave at the Kuala Lumpur High Court to compel the Malaysian government to start proceedings against Singapore.
Earlier, Surendran said Singapore’s Court of Appeal had dismissed Prabagaran’s application to stay his execution pending his case in the Malaysian courts.
He told FMT the appeals court had ruled that Singapore is a sovereign nation and that it would not wait for the outcome of proceedings in Malaysia.