Transformative Justice Collective (TJC) calls on the Singaporean authorities to immediately halt the scheduled executions of three individuals on death row, including Roslan bin Bakar, his co-accused, and Rosman bin Abdullah.
All three men have spent over ten years on death row after being convicted on charges of drug trafficking. Roslan bin Bakar and his co-accused were convicted in 2010, and Rosman bin Abdullah was convicted in 2011. Roslan and his co-accused had been scheduled to be executed on 16 February 2022, but a respite order has since been issued by President Halimah Yacob, and both have an application pending in Court. If the application fails, it is likely that the executions of Roslan and his co-accused will be rescheduled for soon after. Rosman bin Abdullah has been scheduled to be executed on 23 February 2022.
TJC notes with alarm the timing for the scheduled executions for the three individuals, which come after a two-year gap in executions. In a short span of two weeks, three executions had been scheduled. Two of them, for Roslan and his co-accused, had been planned to take place simultaneously. It is highly possible that more executions will be scheduled in the near future.
TJC also deplores the inhumane cruelty of giving their families such short notice. The families of Roslan bin Bakar, his co-accused, and Rosman bin Abdullah were all notified one week before the scheduled execution dates. The family of Roslan’s co-accused is based in Malaysia, and faced difficulties in making travel arrangements to visit him, in light of the COVID-19 travel restrictions.
TJC is also concerned about whether there were sufficient, or indeed any, procedural accommodations accorded to the three men, given concerns that they may have intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities. The intricacies of the criminal justice system are difficult for any individual to navigate, let alone for someone who may have such impairments. For all three individuals, psychiatrists called by the Defence during their respective court proceedings made observations as to their cognitive abilities. Roslan bin Bakar was assessed to have “limited capacity for judgement, decision-making, consequential thinking, impulse control and executive function”. The Prosecution in his case also stated that he was “within the borderline range of intellectual functioning” (emphasis ours). His co-accused was assessed to have an IQ of 67 by a psychiatrist, which is lower than the average individual’s IQ of between 90 and 109. Rosman bin Abdullah was assessed to display “ADHD symptomatology, low IQ, and stunted emotional development”.
TJC previously condemned the scheduled execution of Nagaenthran a/l K Dharmalingam, who had previously been informed that he was scheduled to be executed on 10 November 2021. There were similar concerns then that Nagaenthran did not receive adequate, if any, procedural accommodations. Nagaenthran’s appeal has been adjourned to 1 March.
The use of the death penalty for drug-related offences is in patent violation of international human rights law. The death penalty can only be imposed for the “most serious crimes”, which has been interpreted by the Human Rights Committee to only include intentional killing.
The imposition of the death penalty on individuals with intellectual disabilities and/or psychosocial disabilities is especially egregious, because it may amount to an arbitrary execution in violation of the right to life, and would also constitute a violation of the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, in violation of Singapore’s obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The insufficient or total absence of procedural accommodations accorded to those with intellectual and/or psychosocial disabilities at the different stages of the legal process also appears to violate their rights to due process and access to justice, which are also protected under the CRPD and articulated in the International Principles and Guidelines on Access to Justice for Persons with Disabilities.
TJC urgently calls for the death sentences imposed on the three individuals to be withdrawn. Singapore should respect and protect the inalieanable right to life, and the right to be free from torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment. The multiple marginalised statuses of individuals such as Roslan, his co-accused, Rosman and Nagaenthran show the urgent need for our criminal justice system to apply restorative and transformative justice principles, rather than subjecting people to the death penalty, which will irreversibly and mercilessly snuff lives out. We further urge the government to implement an immediate moratorium on the death penalty, with a view to eventual abolition.