Sunday, February 26, 2006


- Prime Minister Abdullah was wrong to endorse the death penalty -

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disturbed by the statement issued by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi justifying the death penalty for drug traffickers as reported by Bernama on 22/2/2006.

The Prime Minister is blindly echoing the flawed and fundamentally mistaken argument that the death penalty deters potential offenders from trafficking in drugs. The fact is that it has never been proven that the death penalty effectively deters the commission of capital crimes. This is proven by studies conducted throughout the world over the past 70 years using various different methodological approaches.

The official report to the United Nations on the death penalty states as follows, “…the low rates of effectiveness of law enforcement, the relative immunity from the law of those who profit most from the trade in drugs and the higher risk of violence and death they most probably run from others engaged in the drug racket, all make it seem implausible that the death penalty in itself will have a marginally stronger deterrent effect than long terms of imprisonment...”

The Prime Minister also failed to take into consideration the great and real risk that innocent persons may be executed under Malaysia’s harsh drug laws. This is a very real danger in view of the fact that the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 is tainted with presumptions of trafficking which effectively places the burden of proving innocence upon the accused person. This militates against the fundamental and well established presumption of innocence enshrined in the criminal justice system of all civilized nations.

By reason of being caught in possession of a small amount of drugs, the presumption is activated that the person is a drug trafficker. Many innocent victims may not even have been aware that they are carrying drugs. In a recent case, Msimanga Lesaly, a Nigerian widow and mother of five, was condemned to death by the Malaysian courts despite her protests that she was unaware that she had drugs in her possession. As a result of the presumption of trafficking, she was unjustly forced to try and prove that she was innocent of the offence of trafficking whereas it should have been the task of the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she was in fact trafficking in drugs. It should also be remembered that the resources of an individual forced to prove her innocence of trafficking is minimal compared to the vast powers and resources of the State in carrying out prosecutions.

It should be noted that the majority of death sentences handed out in Malaysia are for the offence of drug trafficking. In 6 December 2005, it was disclosed in Parliament that of 52 people who were sentenced to death from 2004 until July 2005, 36 were convicted for drug offences.

The tendency throughout the world has been towards the abolition of the death penalty, with an average of 3 countries abolishing the death penalty over the last decade. At present 122 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice as opposed to 74 countries which retain the death penalty.

Crucially, in 2005 the UN Commission on Human Rights passed Resolution 2005/59 that called upon all states to abolish the death penalty and states that the abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of the right to life of every human being;

It is unfortunate that the Prime Minister of Malaysia did not take into account the above facts when he endorsed the barbarous practice of executing human beings.

We call upon the government of Malaysia to abolish the death penalty for all offences in Malaysia and for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition.

Charles Hector
N. Surendran
Salbiah Ahmad

for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
26th February 2006

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Stop persecution of Human Rights Defenders

MADPET condemns the continuing and escalating suppression of religious freedom, human rights and basic civil liberties in China.

On February 12 2006, the Asia Pacific Relay Hunger Strike for Anti-Persecution Support Network began a hunger strike in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in order to support the human rights movement in China and in protest against the cruel persecution of human rights activists and oppressed people in China. This hunger strike campaign also seeks to publicise and gather support for prominent human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng. In a blatant atempt to silence Mr.Gao, the Chinese authorities have closed down his law office and are said to have repeatedly threatened him and even placed him under 24 hour police surveillance.

Mr.Gao has been at the forefront of the legal battle on behalf of political and religious dissidents. His legal firm has been involved in a land dispute case against locally elected officials in Taishi Village in Guangdong which is a test case for local democracy, has supported Chen Guangcheng a lawyer under house arrest in Linyi City because of his involvement in class action suit aginst local authorities, has defended Zheng Yichun a journalist and former professor who has sentenced to seven years imprisonment for his on-line writings and has aided Falun Gong members who have been brutally tortured and imprisoned by the Chinese authorities. In one of his letters dated 22 November 2005 to President Hu Jin Tao and Premier Wen Jiabao, Mr Gau disclosed “…the true accounts of unbelievable brutality, among the records of the government’s inhumane torture of its own people, …the lewd yet routine practice of attacking women’s genitals by 6-10 Office staff and the police…Almost all who have been persecuted, be they male or female, were first stripped naked before any torture...”

The Chinese government also continues to persecute many other human rights activists and lawyers in an attempt to cow them into abandoning their principled and brave stand against persecution and repression. A case in point is that of Zheng Enchong, a human rights lawyer who has been imprisoned for three years on absurd charges and who has allegedly been beaten in prison in Shanghai. These actions of the Chinese authorities are in flagrant defiance of international norms and basic standards of human decency.

We demand that the Government of China guarantees the safety of Gao Zhisheng and other human rights defenders and lawyers and allows them to continue their efforts on behalf of the people of China without further harassment and persecution.

We call for the immediate release of activists such as Zheng Engchong who have been imprisoned upon baseless charges.

We also ask that the Government of Malaysia request the Chinese Government for an immediate assurance of the safety of Gao Zhisheng.

N. Surendran, Charles Hector & Salbiah Ahmad
for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)
21st February 2006

Thursday, February 09, 2006

MADPET(9/2/06):-THE DEATH PENALTY MUST BE ABOLISHED - Malaysia Must Respect the Right To Life

Malaysia Must Respect the Right To Life

MADPET (Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture) is deeply perturbed by the continued imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in Malaysia, and reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty, and a moratorium on the carrying out of all death sentences pending abolition.

On 6 December 2005, the Deputy Internal Security Minister disclosed in Parliament that 52 people were sentenced to death from 2004 until July. Of these, 36 were convicted for drug offences and 16 for murders. This disclosure brings the number of persons on death row to approximately 173. In November 2003, it was said that there were 121 persons, including 4 women, on the death row.

It was disclosed in February 2005 that over the past 24 years 358 persons have been hanged in Malaysia.

Malaysia lacks many safeguards that would ensure a fair trial which make it most unsafe to sentence a person to death. There is at present no right to a phone call upon arrest, no right to immediate access to a lawyer upon arrest and no right to full disclosure (i.e. the right of access to documents and information that were obtained during the police investigation and after). In Malaysia, in practice an accused only gets access to his own cautioned statement and the first information report. The police and the prosecution do not even have a duty to make known witnesses and evidence that they may have discovered that would have assisted the accused person in his defence. Without pre-trial full disclosure, an accused is deprived of the opportunity and the means to fullly exercise his right to defend himself. Without these necessary safeguards to ensure a fair trial, it becomes a real and horrifying possibility that innocent persons will be sent to the gallows.

The death penalty has never been proven to be effective in deterring crime. Studies conducted throughout the world have repeatedly established this fact. Matters are made worse in the Malaysian context as the government has in general unjustifiably and systematically witheld necessary information on the passing of and execution of death sentences. The government is thus preventing public debate on the death penalty. In 2005, the UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston stated in his report, “ For a government to insist on a principled defence of the death penalty but to refuse to divulge to its own population the extent to which, and the reasons for which it is applied is unacceptable.”

As of December 2005, 122 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The worldwide trend has been towards increasing awareness of the inhumanity, brutality and irrevocability of the death penalty. The death penalty is repugnant to human dignity and the right to life. In 2005 , the UN Commission on Human Rights by Resolution 2005/29 declared that the abolition of the death penalty is essential to protect the right to life.

In the name of humanity, justice and human dignity, and in defence of the principle that all life is sacred, we call upon the Government of Malaysia to abolish the death penalty, and declare an immediate moratorium on the carrying out of all death sentences pending abolition.

Charles Hector
N. Surendran
Salbiah Ahmad

for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)

9th February 2006