S’pore Prison Service Responds to Allegations That Death Row Inmates Were Treated Unfairly


Recently, you might have heard that a group of death row inmates attempted to sue the Attorney-General for unfair treatment.

Iskandar Rahmat, a former policeman, was the inmate who filed the case on Monday (1 August). He was put on death row after being convicted of a double murder in Kovan in 2013.

Apart from claiming that they were not given proper access to their lawyers, there were also claims that the reviewing of the inmates’ cases was obstructed.

Inmate’s Sister Said Her Brother Was Mistreated by Prison Officers

Apart from the claims made by the inmates themselves, the family of one inmate also came forth with claims of her own.

The sister of Abdul Rahim Shapiee, one of the inmates, mentioned that her brother was allegedly treated by the Singapore Prison Service.

She revealed that there were prison officers from the Singapore Prison Service (SPS) who “intentionally obstructed” her brother from handing in a legal application related to a civil lawsuit that was filed against the Attorney-General.

In addition to that, she also added that the prison officers did so to ensure that her brother’s death sentence could be carried out.

Abdul Rahim, currently 45, has been on death row since 2018. He was convicted of trafficking at least 39.87g of pure heroin (diamorphine) and is scheduled to be executed tomorrow (5 August).

He is also the only inmate out of the 24 whose execution date is impending.

Singapore Prison Service’s Response

And just today (4 August), the SPS responded to the claims that Abdul Rahim’s sister put out earlier this week.

In its media statement released in the morning, SPS rejected the claims and said that they were untrue.

SPS also mentioned that none of the prisoners facing capital punishment went up to any SPS prison officer on 25 July to ask for any legal applications to be filed.

Other Inmates Asked for Assistance and Were Given Help

In addition to that, SPS also disclosed that two death row inmates approached a prison officer for more information regarding the filing of an originating claim with the courts, which would allow the inmates to raise a lawsuit.

Apart from giving inmates information regarding who they should approach to find out what documents and fees are needed, one inmate was also given a letterform for him to write any questions to the court after he requested one.

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

“Contrary to the claims made, Singapore Prison Service officers did not ask any (prisoner awaiting capital punishment) for any application form or e-litigation form, or deny any request to file a court application on such basis,” it added.


Regarding the reasons behind the two inmates’ enquiries, SPS highlighted that neither inmate told SPS that the originating summons that they were interested in filing had anything to do with Abdul Rahim, or that their summons called for urgent attention.

SPS Also Helped Inmates File Documents With the Courts

And aside from the claims that they did not obstruct Abdul Rahim and helped inmates with obtaining the legal information that they sought, SPS also shared that Iskandar Rahmat also filed the case against the Attorney-General through the SPS.

In particular, Iskandar had passed the final set of documents needed to file the case to the SPS on Monday (1 August), and SPS helped him to file the documents with the courts in return.

Additionally, SPS also facilitated a meeting between Iskandar and his family so that his family could help him pay for the application free at the Supreme court. A prison officer also aided Iskandar in filing the application on the same day.

It said that it also arranged with Iskandar’s family to pay an application fee at the Supreme Court, with a prison officer present to help with the filing of the application that afternoon.


Judge Dismissed the Case

With regards to the case itself, Justice See Kee Oon struck out the lawsuit filed by the inmates just yesterday (3 August), meaning that the case is dismissed.

In particular, Justice See mentioned that the case was “plainly unsustainable and unmeritorious”.

Prior to that, the Attorney-General also submitted a request to strike out the inmates’ claims.

According to the Attorney-General, there was no “reasonable course of action” that could be taken following the inmates’ claims, and the Attorney-General also accused the inmates of abusing such a process.

Justice See made no finding on this argument as it was “unnecessary” to consider it in the case of deciding whether or not to strike the inmates’ application out.

In response, the inmates submitted an appeal against the High Court’s decision, and a hearing at the Court of Appeal is scheduled for today (4 August).


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Abdul Rahim May Get Stay of Execution

Lastly, Justice See also responded to Abdul Rahim’s request for a stay of execution, allowing his execution to be delayed.

If the request is not granted, he will be executed tomorrow (5 August).

He stated that he would allow a stay if the claimants appealed against his decision by today (4 August) morning.

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