Timely move to abolish mandatory death penalty – Madpet
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 Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali also did commit to propose to the Cabinet that the mandatory death penalty be scrapped. Apandi Ali, 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 November 3. The reply also stated that from 1998 till October 6, 2015, 33 persons were executed in Malaysia. It is not clear as to how many persons have been executed, if any, after December 18, 2007, the date the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution calling for "a moratorium on executions" pending abolition.
On December 18, 2014, UNGA reaffirmed for the fifth time since 2007 the call for a stop of all executions. In 2014, 117 nations 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.
Being a member of the UN, Madpet hopes that Malaysia has been in compliance with this UNGA Resolution and there have been no executions for many years.
The call 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), the 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 to the mandatory death penalty, 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 calls on Malaysia to abolish the death penalty.