From Sebaran Kasih
Sebaran Kasih is appalled that Singapore is to execute condemned prisoners during the holy month of Ramadan. Yet this is not new.
Last year, the Singapore prison services initially set the execution date for Nagaenthran K Dharmalingam when Deepavali was around the corner.
The 34-year-old, from Perak, who is said to have an IQ of 69, a level recognised as a disability, is to be executed on Wednesday after being on death row since 2010 for smuggling 42.7gm of heroin into the city-state a year earlier.
Drug trafficker Datchinamurthy Kataiah, 36, is also awaiting his death sentence in Changi Prison on Friday, despite an ongoing case in the High Court there.
Since he still has a legal challenge in the Singapore High Court, where the hearing is listed for May 20, his execution will constitute contempt of court and is unlawful.
Datchinamurthy is one of 12 death row inmates who had been placed in special punishment cells with inhumane conditions since 2019 to supposedly allow for minor renovations to their previous cells.
His family has claimed the tiny cells caused the inmates, already traumatised by their death sentence, more anguish.
During this horrible time, Datchinamurthy’s health declined, his blood pressure increased, and his mind deteriorated.
It came to a point when he told his visiting family that he wanted to end his own life.
Datchinamurthy said the cell door was solid metal with no holes, thus not giving any chance for the inmates to see or talk to the other prisoners.
The estimated size of one punishment cell is about 6×6 feet, and the only fan available is in the corridor leading to the cells.
Air comes in through the food slot at the door. At night, the cell is very hot and humid.
Inmates are only given one-inch-thick blankets and a straw mat to sleep on. No mattresses and pillows are provided.
There are two slots on the cell door and both of these are locked from the outside. The light bulb within the cells is yellow and dim.
There is no sunlight as the cells are located in the middle of the building.
The cell’s window is completely blocked by metal netting, preventing natural or artificial light from outside from entering the cell.
There is no hot water coming from the showerhead and the shower water is also used for drinking, Datchinamurthy has told his family.
He also became mentally and emotionally distraught when he heard about the alleged brutal execution method that is being practised by the prison authorities.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has released a statement and filed an affidavit questioning the alleged unlawful execution methods practised, but Singapore remains silent.
LFL has said it received such information from a Singapore prison services officer who had served at the execution chamber in Changi prison, and himself carried out hangings.
When Singaporean lawyer M Ravi attempted to act on behalf of the death row inmates, the government charged him with improper conduct, and now plans to confiscate his licence to practise in Singapore.
Why can’t his questions be handled in a fair, sensible way?
It seems like the mind, body, and spirit of the inmates will be broken into bits before they go to the gallows.
The stories of Datchinamurthy and others like him need to be known.
Youngsters who might be easily swayed into crime need to know so that they don’t make the same mistake.
The public and the government need to know so that they can demand reforms.
At the very least, these stories should invoke sympathy and forgiveness towards these inmates as they are victims who were manipulated into becoming drug mules.
Forgiveness and mercy – isn’t that what every religion preaches?
Sebaran Kasih is an NGO that assists families whose loved ones are imprisoned or on the death row.
The views expressed are those of the NGO and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.