|Press release: Abolish the death penalty now|
|Thursday, 13 October 2011 05:23pm|
10 October 2011 marked the World Day Against the Death Penalty. The trend worldwide has been to abolish the death penalty, as the execution of human beings by the State serves as an “example of barbarity” to society and legitimises the taking of human life. Malaysia is one of the 32 remaining countries in the world that still provide for the death penalty for drug-related offences. Out of these 32, 13 have the mandatory death penalty. Malaysia is one of them. In all Commonwealth countries except Malaysia and Singapore, the mandatory death penalty has been declared to be a “cruel and unusual punishment.”
The Malaysian Bar advocates for the abolition of the death penalty in the belief that every individual has an inherent right to life. This right is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that may have been committed. There is no empirical proof that the death penalty is effective in deterring heinous crime. In fact, drug-related offences and addiction have been on the rise in Malaysia since the 1983 amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which brought in the mandatory death penalty.
We also know that the vast majority of arrests for drug trafficking is usually of low-ranking “drug mules” who are the most visible and easy to apprehend. In other words, while policymakers hope that the death penalty serves as a deterrent, the reality is that the majority of these arrests of “minor offenders” would not impact the scale or profitability of the drug market.
It is well-acknowledged that no legal system in the world is foolproof or error-free. The opportunity to right a wrong is, however, not available if the death sentence on a person has been carried out; in such event we, as a society, will be collectively responsible for having sent an innocent man or woman to the gallows. We should take no risks to subject a person to death, as the execution of the death sentence is irreversible.
The death penalty has no place in any society that values human rights, justice and mercy. The Malaysian Bar has organised today’s public forum, together with the European Union Delegation to Malaysia and the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), to hear the diverse views on this highly critical matter. Two of our Members have also produced a short documentary focusing on the death penalty. It is our sincere hope that the proceedings of this public forum as well as the documentary will further contribute to the debate on this issue in Malaysia.
The Malaysian Bar reiterates its call on the Malaysian Government to immediately abolish the death penalty, and for an immediate moratorium on its use pending its abolition.
Lim Chee Wee
13 October 2011