Update on Prabagaran (the Malaysian prisoner on death-row in Singapore for a drug trafficking offence):

We are looking for some ANSWERS. Prabagaran’s Malaysian Lawyers sought access to him through the Singaporean Prisons Service. This access has been denied for reasons unexplained. A similar application was made by a Nigerian lawyer in 2007 to visit Amara Tochi another prisoner (a Nigerian accused of drug-trafficking, also a death-row prisoner). This request was also denied on the basis that he was not an Advocate and Solicitor of Singapore.

There is a serious lack of transparency here and it is unclear the grounds on which the Prisons Service can and cannot grant access for lawyers. We are aware that the Prisons Service had approved foreign lawyers for visits/access in the past. A precedent was set when Australian Lawyers who requested access to visit Van Nguyen (the Australian on death-row) before his execution, were granted access.

Why the discrepancies? Surely something so important as right to access by lawyers cannot be so arbitrary? What about Article 12 and the right to equal treatment under the law?

Where can we get answers for these very critical and fundamental questions? Must we run to the courts every time for such challenges?

I have had access in the past to my Singapore client facing capital punishment in Malaysia. This is so very basic and so very important.