Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Media Statement – 14/7/2016

-Abolish Death Penalty -

MADPET is happy that Malaysia have in place a moratorium on executions, especially for those languishing on death row for drug trafficking. Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Malaysia’s current AICHR (ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights) representative, was recently reported saying ‘…Malaysia’s moratorium, I understand, is only for drug trafficking cases…’ (Star, 10/7/2015). It must be noted that Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), also did reiterate on 29 March 2016 their recommendation that a moratorium on the use of the death penalty be put in place in Malaysia.

MADPET is of the opinion that this positive development should not be kept secret, but should have long been proudly announced by the Malaysian government. In fact, Nancy Shukri, the de facto Law Minister, should have proudly announced Malaysia’s moratorium on executions when she took the stage at the 6th World Congress Against Death Penalty in Malaysia.

At the said Congress in Oslo, Norway on 21 June 2016, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, did state that Malaysia will soon be amending the laws to do away with the mandatory death penalty. Although, no time frame was mentioned, MADPET and others have called that these long overdue amendments be tabled at the upcoming sitting of Parliament in October 2016. In November 2015, the same Minister has said that the amendments would be tabled in the March 2016 sitting of Parliament.

MADPET urges Malaysia to extend the moratorium on executions to all persons on death row, not just those convicted for drug trafficking. This only makes sense, since Malaysia is now in the process of abolishing the death penalty, beginning with the mandatory death penalty.

In May 2016, Malaysia disclosed that there are 1,041 persons on death row. Based on the statistics revealed in 2011, when the number on death row was 696 (as 22/2/2011), 479(69%) were for drug trafficking, 204(29%) were for murder and 13(2%) for illegal processions of arms. It looks like almost all  that may be on death row are for mandatory death penalty offences.

There are at least 10 offences in Malaysian laws that carry the mandatory death penalty, whereby only 3 are for offences that result in the death of the victim – Murder [sec.302 Penal Code], Committing terrorist acts where the act results in death [sec. 130C (1)(a) Penal Code]; and Hostage taking where the act results in death [sec. 374(a) Penal Code]. For all the other mandatory death penalty offences, death does not result, namely Drug Trafficking (sec. 39B Dangerous Drugs Act 1952) and 6 types of offence listed in the Schedule of the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, which includes robbery, kidnapping, extortion and house trespass.

The existence of mandatory death penalty, for offences that do not result in death, as in the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, only unnecessarily increase the risk of victims and/or witnesses to these crimes being killed by perpetrators to avoid the mandatory death penalty.

Malaysia’s moratorium on execution will be most welcome by everyone including the international community, as it will be seen to be in compliance with the now 5 existing United Nations General Assembly(UNGA) Resolutions, the first in 2007 and the last being in 2014, that called for ‘a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty’. Every time, these UNGA Resolutions have been tabled, the number of countries that have voted in favour have been increasing, demonstrating that the global trend is towards abolition.

Malaysia has every reason to be proud of the fact that they have been considering abolition, have in fact carried out serious studies which have now been concluded, and will be soon be taking the first step by abolishing mandatory death penalty. Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali, also the Public Prosecutor, is also for the scraping of the mandatory death penalty, and he was reported saying in 2015, that the ‘…mandatory death sentences were a "paradox", as it robbed judges of their discretion to impose sentences on convicted criminals….’.

MADPET also urges Edmund Bon, to emulate his predecessor, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, in publicly declaring his personal position for the abolition of the death penalty. AICHR Representatives should also at the very least take a stand for the abolition of the death penalty in ASEAN, as had been done by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM).

MADPET urges Malaysia to immediately extend the moratorium on executions to all, not just only for those convicted for drug trafficking.

MADPET urges that Malaysia tables in the upcoming sitting of the Malaysian Parliament in October 2016, amendments and/or legislations that will see the abolition of the mandatory death penalty; and

MADPET urges Malaysia to abolish the death penalty.

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Note: Below extract from news report of an interview with Edmund Bon Tai Soon, Malaysia’s new representative to the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) as published by the Star..

Is there a consensus within Asean with regard to the death penalty?

>No. But within AICHR, there is a move to study whether we should get rid of the death penalty. One of the countries in AICHR has proposed this. We’re looking at how we can do it in stages. Malaysia’s moratorium, I understand, is only for drug trafficking cases. To the credit of my predecessor, he has raised this a number of times but he has not and we (AICHR) have not said, ‘let’s make a decision on this’ because some countries need the time to buy in, be comfortable that the death penalty is not sufficiently a deterrent punishment looking at the statistics. So we need a thematic study to convince the countries, including Malaysia. - Star, 9/7/2016, Improving Malaysia’s profile

No comments: