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ALERT 24/03/2023

ALERT 20/08/2019

SINGAPORE: Singaporean human rights lawyer Mr Ravi has been suspended for five years for publicly criticising the prosecutor’s of being “overzealous” in his prosecution of a death row client.

 24th of march 2023 

A Singaporean human rights lawyer and strong advocate for the right of access to justice in his country, Mr Ravi, will appear before the Singaporean Magistrate’s Court after being suspended for five years.  

By order of the Chief Justice, M. Ravi was suspended for five years, the maximum penalty for legal misconduct, for making “serious and unsubstantiated allegations of improper conduct” against the Attorney-General, officers of the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Singapore Law Society.   

The decision follows comments made by the lawyer in an interview about his client’s pending death penalty case, the drug trafficker Gobi Avedian. The lawyer reportedly called on the state, the prosecutor and the Singapore Justice Minister to apologise to Gobi, adding that the fairness of the prosecution had been “questioned by the court itself”.  

After being asked to retract his comments, the lawyer had posted the letter sent by the Attorney-General on social media and said he had the right to criticise “the injustice associated with the miscarriage of justice”.  

The lawyer, who is known for representing death row inmates, including Malaysian inmates in Singapore, reacted to his suspension by stressing his pride in having been able to open the death penalty case in Singapore and to have managed to save “at least one life”. The lawyer reiterated his commitment to human rights and access to justice, “at great sacrifice”, for which he has no regrets.   

Pending the lawyer’s hearing, which will take place next week, the Observatory reiterates its support for the lawyer Mr Ravi.   

The Observatory strongly condemns the suspension of Mr Ravi and calls on the judicial authorities to reverse the suspension decision of the President of the Supreme Court.  

The Observatory will closely follow the follow-up of the case and recalls that in accordance with the provisions of the United Nations Principles on the Role of Lawyers, in particular principles 16 and 23:    

“Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all their professional functions without hindrance, intimidation, harassment or undue interference;(…)” (Principle 16)  

“Lawyers, like all other citizens, shall enjoy freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly (…)” (Principle 23) 

SINGAPORE: Persecutions against the lawyer Ravi Madasamy, engaged in the defence of Malaysian death row inmates

 20th of August 2019

On the 19th of August, the Singapore Attorney General notified human rights lawyer M Ravi (Ravi Madasamy) that he had filed a complaint against him with the Singapore Bar Association for “breach of the administration of justice”. A complaint that could have the effect of preventing him from continuing to practice his profession. A charge of contempt of court could also be laid against Mr. Ravi.

The lawyer M Ravi is reportedly prosecuted for his work on behalf of death row inmates in Malaysia. He is known throughout the world for his tireless advocacy against death penalty.

He currently represents Nagaenthran Dharmalingam, sentenced to death for mental disorder, who has been in prison for ten years, including eight years on death row. The High Court and the Court of Appeal refused to recognize Nagaenthran’s obvious mental disability and sentenced him to life imprisonment rather than death penalty.

Following a statement by the lawyer in Malaysia at a press conference on the 23rd of July 2019, the Singaporean authorities filed a complaint against him for “violation of the administration of justice”, which could also be followed by charges of contempt of court.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) legal counsel N. Surendran has condemned this action by the Singaporean authorities and demanded that they stop threatening and interfering with Malaysian death row lawyers.

Singapore would be known for prosecuting those who criticize death penalty, particularly against drug mules. In 2010, British writer Alan Shadrake was prosecuted and jailed for criticising death penalty.


The IOLD supports lawyer M Ravi and all persecuted lawyers in their position on death penalty in Singapore.

The IOLD joins the Lawyers for Liberty rights group and urges the Singaporean authorities to drop the charges against lawyer M Ravi and to allow him to exercise his legal profession freely.

The IOLD calls upon the Singaporean authorities to comply with the 1990 Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers of the United Nations, including:

  • Governments shall ensure that lawyers (…) (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics” (Principle No. 16);
  • Lawyers like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly. In particular, they shall have the right to take part in public discussion of matters concerning the law, the administration of justice and the promotion and protection of human rights (…)” (Principle No. 23).