Sunday, April 17, 2016

Malaysia should impose moratorium on death penalty (ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights)

Malaysia should impose moratorium on death penalty

Malaysia should impose moratorium on death penalty
By Kasthuri Patto

Tomorrow will be a week since the “secretive” execution of 3 men in Taiping. They had been sentenced the death penalty for a crime that took place in 2005 in Sungai Petani.

The families had been given a letter from the Taiping Prisons Department on Wednesday 23rd March informing them that they may visit their sons on Thursday after 9am and that they will be carrying out the executions in the soonest time. The letter concludes that the families may also discuss on claiming the bodies of the 3 men after the execution for their burials.

The letters had been dated 10th March and according to the families, they had only received them on the 23rd of March, a delay of 13 days. Was this deliberate to deprive the families of help and support from various bodies who may try to halt the executions?

While we do not condone or defend the crimes committed of these 3 men and other offenders, the nature in which the executions had taken place had been extremely shady, “secretive” and hasty. To top it all, questions have been raised if any particular case had become a victim of the miscarriage of justice. It is apparent that the prisons were bent on executing the 3 men come hell or high water.

In a written reply to Puchong MP Gobind Singh dated 29 March 2016 on the number of death row inmates from 2010, their offences, the number of executions carried out and the number of inmates who had been pardoned it was shocking to discover that there had been 12 executions from year 2010 till February 2016, 829 have been charged and given the death penalty for the crimes of murder, drug trafficking, firearms related offences as well kidnaps. 95 had been pardoned by the Agong or the Sultan of any particular state.

From 1998 to 2015, there are 1022 inmates on death row with over 600 Malaysians and the rest are foreigners.

What is the selection process for those who have been scheduled for execution? From discussions with Shamini Darshni from Amnesty International, some inmates have been serving time for over 13 years now and don’t know if their names would be up next to be executed. Who selects who will be up next? No one really knows for sure.

In November last year, a roundtable discussion had been held in the Malaysian Parliament by Parliamentarians for Global Action for the Abolition of the Death Penalty on initiatives, commitments and particularly reforms on the state of inmates on death row and the abolition of the mandatory death penalty.

It was co-hosted by YB Mohd Nazri Aziz as the Chair of the PGA National Group and also YB Nancy Shukri Minister Minister of Law in the Prime Minister’s Department along with Luc Vandebon EU Ambassador to Malaysia, Justice Dato Mah Weng Kwai, MPs from Malaysia, namely YB Kulasegaran, YB Shamsul Iskandar, myself and international MPs as well.

The main outcome of the meeting was that:
    (i) the Malaysian government pledged to introduce a bill aiming to abolish the mandatory death penalty for all offences and a review of the existing death row cases.
    (ii) the Malaysian Government instate an official moratorium on executions pending the assessment of the report on effectiveness of the death penalty;
    (iii) the Malaysian Government ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular its Second Optional Protocol and to remove the reservation to the Convention on the Rights of the Child allowing for capital punishment for children to properly reflect the position of the law under the Child Act of 2001.
Under Malaysian law, the death penalty is mandatory for treason (Article 12A, Penal Code), murder (Article 302, Penal Code), firearms offences (Articles 57(1) Articles 3 and 3A of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act) and drug-trafficking (Article 39B, Dangerous Drugs Act).

Crimes that are punishable with discretionary death penalty, is some offences linked to treason (Article 121, Penal Code), mutiny (Article 132, Penal Code), giving false evidence to procure conviction of a capital offence (Article 194, Penal Code), abetment of suicide (Article 305, Penal Code), offences resulting in death or with intent to kill (Articles 307(2), 364 and 376(4), Penal Code), gang-robbery with murder (Article 396, Penal Code) and trafficking in firearms (Article 7(1), Firearms Act).

When there is a possibility of judicial blunders how can one ensure just and right sentences have been rendered to the accused?

The Malaysian government should walk the talk that there shall be no executions until the bill to abolish the “mandatory” death penalty is tabled in the Dewan Rakyat.

Attorney General and the Malaysian government should not play Russian Roulette with the lives of inmates on death row by arbitrary, “secretive” and hasty executions and should immediately impose a moratorium on executions of all crimes. - ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

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