Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Abolishing of mandatory death penalty hailed(Malaysiakini)

Abolishing of mandatory death penalty for traffickers hailed

Charles Hector, Madpet     Published     Updated     0

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) is happy to note that Nancy Shukri, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and also the de facto Law Minister, was reported as stating that the proposal to amend laws to abolish the mandatory death sentence for drug traffickers may be tabled in Parliament as early as March next year. (The Malay Mail, Nov 17, 2015).

The Malaysian government has since 2010 announced its willingness to relook at the mandatory death penalty, with a view to its possible abolition or the reintroduction of a discretionary death penalty, and finally in 2016 we may see this becoming reality.

Last week, attorney-general Apandi Ali also did commit to propose to the cabinet that the mandatory death penalty be scrapped (The Malaysian Insider, Nov 13, 2015). Apandi, who is also the public prosecutor, said that “...mandatory death sentences were a ‘paradox’, as it robbed judges of their discretion to impose sentences on convicted criminals...”

There are currently 1,022 persons on death row, based on the government’s written reply to Member of Parliament M Kulasegaran dated Nov 3.

The reply also stated that from 1998 till Oct 6, 2015, 33 persons were executed in Malaysia.

It is not clear as to how many persons have been executed, if any, after Dec 18, 2007, the date the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution urging “a moratorium on executions” pending abolition.

On Dec 18, 2014, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) reaffirmed for the fifth time since 2007 the urging for a stop of all executions. In 2014, 117 nation states voted in favour, 38 against, 34 abstention with 4 absentees. Every time the said resolution had been adopted, the number of votes in favour has been increasing. The global trend continues to be for abolition.

Madpet hopes that Malaysia, being a member of the United Nations, has been in compliance with this UN General Assembly Resolution and there have been no executions for many years.

The urging for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia has been made by many individuals, bodies and civil society organisations including Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam), Malaysian Bar and Madpet.

It is also good news that Malaysia had commuted the sentence of 127 persons on death row since 1998. Madpet urges that the sentence of all persons currently on death row be commuted.

In tabling the amendments that will bring about an end of the mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers, Madpet urges that provisions be included to allow the court to review the death sentence of all those currently on death row by reason that the offence under which they were convicted carried the mandatory death penalty. Alternatively, all their sentences could be commuted to life imprisonment or imprisonment until end of natural life.

Madpet appreciates this first step, and urges Malaysia to abolish the death penalty for drug traffickers.

Madpet also urges a moratorium on all executions pending abolition.

Madpet also urges Malaysia to urge Asean to abolish the death penalty.

CHARLES HECTOR is a coordinator of Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet).
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