Thursday, February 09, 2006

MADPET(9/2/06):-THE DEATH PENALTY MUST BE ABOLISHED - Malaysia Must Respect the Right To Life

Malaysia Must Respect the Right To Life

MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture) is deeply perturbed by the continued imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in Malaysia, and reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty, and a moratorium on the carrying out of all death sentences pending abolition.

On 6 December 2005, the Deputy Internal Security Minister disclosed in Parliament that 52 people were sentenced to death from 2004 until July. Of these, 36 were convicted for drug offences and 16 for murders. This disclosure brings the number of persons on death row to approximately 173. In November 2003, it was said that there were 121 persons, including 4 women, on the death row.

It was disclosed in February 2005 that over the past 24 years 358 persons have been hanged in Malaysia.

Malaysia lacks many safeguards that would ensure a fair trial which make it most unsafe to sentence a person to death. There is at present no right to a phone call upon arrest, no right to immediate access to a lawyer upon arrest and no right to full disclosure (i.e. the right of access to documents and information that were obtained during the police investigation and after). In Malaysia, in practice an accused only gets access to his own cautioned statement and the first information report. The police and the prosecution do not even have a duty to make known witnesses and evidence that they may have discovered that would have assisted the accused person in his defence. Without pre-trial full disclosure, an accused is deprived of the opportunity and the means to fullly exercise his right to defend himself. Without these necessary safeguards to ensure a fair trial, it becomes a real and horrifying possibility that innocent persons will be sent to the gallows.

The death penalty has never been proven to be effective in deterring crime. Studies conducted throughout the world have repeatedly established this fact. Matters are made worse in the Malaysian context as the government has in general unjustifiably and systematically witheld necessary information on the passing of and execution of death sentences. The government is thus preventing public debate on the death penalty. In 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston stated in his report, “ For a government to insist on a principled defence of the death penalty but to refuse to divulge to its own population the extent to which, and the reasons for which it is applied is unacceptable.”

As of December 2005, 122 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The worldwide trend has been towards increasing awareness of the inhumanity, brutality and irrevocability of the death penalty. The death penalty is repugnant to human dignity and the right to life. In 2005 , the UN Commission on Human Rights by Resolution 2005/29 declared that the abolition of the death penalty is essential to protect the right to life.

In the name of humanity, justice and human dignity, and in defence of the principle that all life is sacred, we call upon the Government of Malaysia to abolish the death penalty, and declare an immediate moratorium on the carrying out of all death sentences pending abolition.

Charles Hector
N. Surendran
Salbiah Ahmad

for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)

9th February 2006

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