MADPET is for the Abolition of Death Penalty, an end of torture and abuse of rights by the police, an end to death in custody, an end to police shoot to kill incidents, for greater safeguards to ensure a fair trial, for a right to one phone call and immediate access to a lawyer upon arrest, for the repeal of all laws that allow for detention without trial and an immediate release of all those who are under such draconian laws.
As part of Lenten Campaign 2013, the Office for Human Development
(AOHD) of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur seeks to address a social
issue in Malaysia that requires a ‘justice and peace’ solution; namely,
the mandatory death sentence that is meted out for several offences in
Malaysia, including murder and drug trafficking. The resolution of this
issue calls for the death penalty to be abolished. Accordingly, this
signature campaign is to request the Prime Minister of Malaysia to
abolish the death penalty.
What is the Problem with the Death Penalty?
The Catholic Faith teaches us that the Death Sentence is an affront
to the God-given dignity of human life. Even when a person is found
guilty of a heinous crime in the face of convincing or overwhelming
evidence, no person, institution or State has the right to terminate a
human being’s life. As such, we should be committed to perpetuating
human life, and should oppose any law that provides for its termination.
Why Abolish the Death Penalty
Apart from the State’s duty to protect human life, the risk of
sending an innocent person to death is another reason why the death
penalty needs to be abolished. No human person, be it police,
prosecutors, witnesses, lawyers and even judges, are infallible, and no
legal system in the world is error-free..
There have been many examples of cases of miscarriage
of justice, where innocent persons have been incarcerated in prison for
many years, or even sentenced to death. The opportunity to right a
wrong is, however, not available since death is irreversible.
“The law is the law but I wish Parliament would abolish the
death sentence because if a mistake is made, it would be irreversible.
There are other ways of dealing with heinous crimes,” - Datuk K.C. Vohrah, former Court of Appeal judge
“No criminal justice system is perfect. You take a man’s life and
years later, you find out that another person did the crime. What can
you do?”- Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department
A recent case of miscarriage of justice was the case of Chiang
Kuo-ching, who was executed in Taiwan in 1997 after being convicted of
sexually abusing and murdering a five-year-old girl. In 2011, Taiwan’s
Ministry of Justice admitted that Chiang had been executed in error.
Advocates say that the death penalty is a deterrent
to crime. On the contrary, in March 2012, Home Minister Dato’ Seri
Hishammuddin Hussein revealed in Parliament that the mandatory death
penalty has failed to act as a deterrent. Further, police statistics for
the arrest of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act
1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, have shown an
increase. In 2009, 2,955 were arrested under this section; in 2010,
3,700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, 3,845 were arrested (Free Malaysia Today News, 19 March 2012: Death penalty not deterring drug trade)
Death Penalty and the Church
The Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, during a general audience on 30
Nov. 2011, called on countries around the world to end the death penalty
as a legal sanction.
“I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the
political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number
of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the
substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human
dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.” – Pope Benedict XVI (Crisis Magazine, 2 Dec. 2011)
The encyclical The Gospel of Life highlighted the problem of the death penalty.
“… the aggressor … may not be morally responsible because of a
lack of the use of reason … there is a growing tendency, both in the
Church and in civil society, to demand that [the death penalty] be
applied in a very limited way or even that it be abolished completely.
The problem must be viewed in the context of … God’s plan for man and
society.” – John Paul II (No. 55, 56; Evangelium Vitae, 25 March 1995)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the necessity for executing the offender does not arise in today’s situation.
" … non-lethal means are … more in keeping with
the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to
the dignity of the human person. Today … the cases in which the
execution of the offender is an absolute necessity "are very rare, if
not practically non-existent.” (No. 2267, 11 Oct. 1992)
International Trend to Abolish the Death Penalty
On 20 Dec. 2012, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a
fourth resolution on a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with
111 countries voting in favour. In the Asia Pacific region, 17
countries have abolished the death penalty, while 14 countries,
including Malaysia, retain it.
Malaysian Efforts to Abolish the Death Sentence
In 2006, the Malaysian Bar, a body representing about 14,000 lawyers,
adopted a resolution calling for the abolition of the death penalty. In
2012, a second resolution was further adopted unanimously with no
objections or abstentions.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
called on the Government on 22 Oct. 2012 to review the relevance and
effectiveness of capital punishment, and to join other UN member states
to completely abolish the death penalty.
The Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (PROHAM) stated on 3 Nov. 2012 that it ‘…
recognizes that society has a moral obligation to protect human life
and not to take it. As such the death penalty is the ultimate
irreversible denial of human rights. The death penalty is unjust. By
abolishing the death penalty it affirms our condemnation of cruelty and
affirms the value of human life …’
On 3 Nov. 2012, Amnesty International Malaysia,
Catholic Lawyers Society Malaysia, Malaysians Against Death Penalty and
Torture (MADPET), Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility (MPSR),
Women’s Centre for Change, Writers Alliance for Media Independence
(WAMI) Malaysia, together with other organizations, called for the
“abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, for an immediate moratorium
on all executions pending abolition and for the commutation of the
sentences of all persons currently on death row …”.
Malaysians Facing the Death Penalty
More Malaysians realize that the mandatory death penalty for drug
trafficking is wrong, given that most persons sentenced to death for
this offence are generally ‘mules’, many of whom are young people who
have been tricked, or those who are financially disadvantaged.
Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, 24, a graduate from a poor
Malay family of rice farmers, admitted to having 2.9 kg of heroin in her
luggage when she was arrested at the airport. She faces the death
penalty in China. Yong Vui Kong of Sabah was 19 when he was sentenced to
hang in 2008 for smuggling 47 grams of heroin into Singapore.
About 250 other Malaysians suspected of being drug
mules have been detained in countries that actively practice capital
punishment, and 930 persons in Malaysia face the death penalty.
Consistent with a sacred respect for human life, and as a specific
‘justice and peace’ action for Lenten Campaign 2013, the Office for
Human Development (AOHD) of the Kuala Lumpur Archdiocese earnestly urges
you to support, endorse and publicize this signature campaign. If you
agree that the death penalty should be repealed in Malaysia, please add
your name to the signature campaign list.
Thank you for your informed and considered support.
In solidarity For the Archdiocese Lenten Signature Campaign 2013 Rev. Dr. Clarence Devadass
Director, Archdiocese Pastoral Institute, Kuala Lumpur.
Prime Minister of Malaysia, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajahaan Persekutuan, Bangunan Perdana Putra, 62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia.
CALL FOR THE ABOLITION OF THE DEATH PENALTY IN MALAYSIA
call for the abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia, noting our
moral obligation to defend the sacred value of human life ‘from the very
beginning until its natural end.
We have to be humane and
advocate mercy, repentance and transformation of any offender. We should
be moving towards more humane ways of restoring justice, not by the
termination of human life. We believe that there is always the
possibility of reforming and changing the offender.
The risk of
miscarriage of justice is very real in a fallible world. The abolition
of the death penalty will erase the risk of sending an innocent person
to death. As a recent example, we recall the case of Chiang Kuo-ching,
who was executed in Taiwan in 1997 after being convicted of sexually
abusing and murdering a five-year-old girl. In 2011, a military court
formally acquitted Chiang.
The argument that the death penalty is
a deterrent has been found to have no basis. Based on the revelation in
Parliament by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein in March 2012, police
statistics show that for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B
of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death
penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase.
Today, there are about 930 persons on death row, and we must act to ensure that their lives are not extinguished by us.
line with the UN General Assembly Resolutions of 2007, 2008 and 2010,
we call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, for an
immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition and for the
commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row.
also call on the Malaysian government to do everything necessary and
possible to save the lives of about 250 Malaysians facing the death
penalty in other countries, and 930 persons on death row.
The Commission has consistently called for the
Government to consider a moratorium on the death penalty or
commuting this form of punishment to life imprisonment, especially for
those who have been on death row for more than five years.
It also wishes to call upon the Government to review the
relevance and effectiveness of capital punishment and to
join the other 140 UN member states to completely abolish
the death penalty.-SUHAKAM: PROPOSED REVIEW OF THE DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG OFFENCES IS WELCOMED