Singapore prisons rejects claims that it intentionally blocked death row inmate from submitting legal application 

Singapore prisons rejects claims that it intentionally blocked death row inmate from submitting legal application 

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Prison Service (SPS) has rejected claims made by the sister of a death row inmate.

The claims alleged that SPS had intentionally obstructed the submission of a legal application in order to facilitate the inmate’s execution which is currently scheduled for Friday (Aug 5).

In a statement issued on Thursday, SPS said these claims were “untrue”. 

SPS also disputed events laid out in a complaint letter addressed to Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon and penned by Norhafizah Shapiee, the sister of Abdul Rahim Shapiee, a 45-year-old man convicted in 2018 of possessing drugs for trafficking.

Norhafizah wrote in the letter that Abdul Rahim had been “denied access to the court” when trying to file a civil claim through the prison registry. The nature of the claim was not mentioned.

She said her brother and other death row inmates had given relevant documents to prison officers on Jul 25, requesting that the claim be filed urgently. However, she said the authorities refused to help and asked the inmates for “application forms and e-litigation forms”.

“Obviously, as they are death row prisoners, it is impossible for them to make available these forms,” wrote Norhafizah. 

The application was not filed and on Jul 29, Abdul Rahim was given notice that he would be hanged on Aug 5.

“I worry that the prison was aware on Jul 25 of his scheduled execution … and therefore blocked his application,” said his sister.

But on Thursday, SPS said that no prisoner awaiting capital punishment had approached any of its officers on Jul 25 to request to file any legal application.

SPS said that it was on Jul 28 that two other death row prisoners sought an SPS officer’s advice on filing a civil claim.

“Since the advice related to legal proceedings to be filed in court, the SPS officer told them that they should seek advice from the court on the specific documents required … as well as the fees involved,” said the correctional agency. 

“This is the standard procedure for prisoners who are not assisted by legal counsel for the filing of non-routine applications.”

Examples of routine applications which SPS staff are familiar with include those for criminal motions and judicial reviews, said SPS.

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