Reprieve: Richard Branson, Stephen Fry and Timothy Shriver plead with Singapore’s President for mercy as Nagaenthran Dharmalingam’s execution scheduled

Watch here, via YouTube (unlisted) 

Download here, via WeTransfer 

LONDON, April 22, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Singaporean officials have scheduled the execution of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, an intellectually disabled Malaysian man sentenced to death in 2011 for carrying less than three tablespoons of diamorphine, for next Wednesday, 27 April. In a bid for mercy, Richard Branson, Stephen Fry and disability rights activist and Chair of the Special Olympics Timothy Shriver, have shared a personal plea to Singapore’s authorities to spare Nagaenthran’s life.

Branson, Fry and Shriver join more than 100,000 people who have signed a petition calling on President Halimah Yacob to pardon Nagaenthran in light of his intellectual disability and amid growing opposition to the death penalty in Singapore. Those who have called for clemency include Malaysian King Abdullah Shah, United Nations Special Rapporteurs and the EU’s Delegation to Singapore.

Nagaenthran has an IQ of 69, below the internationally recognised threshold for intellectual disability, and his mental state is reported to have deteriorated during his imprisonment –  to the point that he is not fully aware he faces execution. Referencing his condition in the video, Mr Fry states “Nagen doesn’t deserve to die” and Mr Shriver refers to Nagen’s mental state worsening during his imprisonment.

Mr Branson highlights that “Singapore has always led from the front when it comes to the rights of people with disabilities and championing their inclusion in society”, with Mr Fry adding that Nagen’s execution “would cast a dark shadow on many of those commitments”.

Mr Branson also expresses concern to President Halimah Yacob and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong that Nagen’s execution would pose “a great risk to your country’s reputation in the world – including its reputation in the world of business”. Mr Shriver tells President and the Prime Minister that Nagen’s life rests in their hands and the eyes of the world are on Singapore.

Mr Fry echoes Mr Branson’s appeal for a Presidential pardon, urging President Halimah Yacob to grant clemency “in the name of compassion and mercy”.

The plea to spare Nagaenthran’s life follows Mr Branson launch of the Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty initiative, calling for an end to capital to capital punishment everywhere. The campaign has since been supported by hundreds of preeminent industry figures around the world.

Commenting on the scheduling of Nagaenthran’s execution and the publication of the video, Maya Foa, Reprieve’s Director, said:  

“Nagen’s case has sparked unprecedented levels of opposition to the death penalty within Singapore, and outcry across the world, from disability rights activists and the United Nations to celebrities and global business leaders. 

“Nagen’s belief that he may be coming home and his excitement about being reunited with his family is heart-breaking evidence that he does not fully understand he faces execution in less than a week. Killing someone who clearly lacks mental competency will directly undermine Singapore’s efforts to champion the rights of persons with disabilities. President Halimah, please do not deny Nagen the compassion and solidarity your Government has shown to people with disabilities like him. Grant him clemency or transfer him to Malaysia, where he may receive family support and care for his condition and his deteriorating mental state.” 

Notes to editors: 

  • The execution is has been scheduled for Wednesday 27 April and is expected to take place at dawn on Wednesday morning, Singapore time.
  • Nagaenthran meets the requirements for a prisoner transfer to Malaysia. Domestic laws permit Malaysia to negotiate a prisoner transfer and the conditions win the relevant legislation are all met in Nagaenthran’s case. Malaysia has supported his case and pleaded with the Singaporean government for clemency on his behalf, including through a personal appeal from the King to the Singaporean President.
  • Mr Branson is a long-standing opponent of capital punishment, and in March 2021 he spearheaded the launch of Business Leaders Against the Death Penalty in partnership with the Responsible Business Initiative for Justice. The campaign has already brought together more than 250 preeminent industry figures to call for a global end to this cruel, discriminatory and ineffective practice – including Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Unilever CEO Alan Jope and AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes. In a joint declaration these business leaders wrote:

“As an irreversible and extreme form of punishment, the death penalty is inhumane, and it is irreconcilable with human dignity.  Its worldwide abolition is a moral imperative that all of humanity should support.”

  • Nagen’s family has been informed by Singapore authorities that the petition for clemency submitted by his mother on 3 December has been rejected.
  • The video can be viewed on YouTube here or downloaded via We Transfer here. This link can be used to embed the video in an article: <iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=”” title=”YouTube video player” frameborder=”0″ allow=”accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture” allowfullscreen></iframe>

Transcript of the video:

SF: Dear President Halimah Yacob, dear Prime Minister Lee,

TS: Please spare the life of Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, a young Malaysian man who has been living with an intellectual disability on death row in Singapore for more than a decade.

RB: Only a presidential pardon can stop his execution, and I am joining many around the world in asking you to use your powers to grant Nagen clemency.

SF: Nagen doesn’t deserve to die. Nagen has been living with an intellectual disability as defined under international human rights law.

TS: And Nagen’s mental state has worsened during his imprisonment.  

RB: Singapore has always led from the front when it comes to the rights of people with disabilities and championing their inclusion in society.

SF: Nagen’s execution would cast a dark shadow on many of those commitments.

RB: That’s a great risk to your country’s reputation in the world – including its reputation in the world of business.

TS: Madam President, Prime Minister – with the eyes of the world on Singapore, Nagen’s life rests in your hands.

SF: In the name of compassion and mercy, please grant Nagaenthran Dharmalingam clemency.


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