Press Release

Fine imposed by S’pore apex court intended to harass & intimidate lawyer for M’sian death row prisoners M Ravi; M’sian lawyers rally to pay the fine

18 May 2021

We refer to the decision on May 14 by Singapore’s Court of Appeal to order prominent Singapore human rights lawyer M Ravi to pay costs of 5,000 dollars to the Singapore AG, arising from a death penalty case in which Ravi was defence counsel.

The excessive fine arose from a complaint by the AG against Ravi over applications he had filed in court on behalf of death row prisoner Syed Suhail. This case led to disclosures in court that Singapore authorities had been illegally spying on communications from prison between Malaysian death row prisoners and their lawyers and family.

M Ravi has been at the forefront in defending Malaysian citizens facing the death penalty under Singapore’s notorious and draconian drug laws, and is consequently regularly harassed and intimidated by the Singapore government, police, AG’s office and judiciary.

The latest fine imposed upon Ravi for doing his duty as defence counsel in a death penalty case is unprecedented, and clearly linked to his high-profile defence of many Malaysian drug mules on death row.

Singapore’s use of draconian drug laws and unjust profiling against low-income Malaysian citizens for arrest over alleged drug-trafficking is well-known. As stated above, they have even resorted to spying on privileged communications between lawyers and Malaysian prisoners.

In October last year, Ravi’s efforts saved Malaysian citizen Gobi Avedian from hanging, after Ravi succeeded in re-opening the case. The fine imposed on Ravi is clearly intended to prevent him from vigorously pursuing appeals in the cases of the other Malaysians in death row.

Apart from this, the Singapore AG has also brought disciplinary action against Ravi, by faulting legitimate court applications Ravi had pursued in Gobi Avedian’s case.

This persecution of M Ravi by the Singapore government, AG and judiciary over his strong stance against the death penalty, has been longstanding and a black mark upon Singapore’s international reputation.

We strongly urge the Singapore government to respect the rule of law, and allow lawyer M Ravi to carry on his efforts on behalf of Malaysian death row prisoners without further subjecting him to such oppressive proceedings.

Meanwhile, within hours of the decision of the Singapore court to impose the fine, Malaysian lawyers rallied to his support in solidarity, and have raised the full sum of 5,000 dollars to settle the fine. We hope this will send a clear message to the Singapore government and their judiciary to allow defence lawyers to carry out their duties without undue interference or punitive consequences.

Issued by
N Surendran
Lawyers for Liberty

18 May 2021