Monday, May 16, 2011

441 hanged to death since 1960, another 696 on death row as at 20/2/2011

Time to abolish death sentence

Athi Shankar | April 3, 2011 
A total of 441 persons had been sentenced to death since 1960 while another 696 are waiting for execution of their death sentences in Malaysian prisons.
GEORGE TOWN: A DAP parliamentarian today called on the government to give a serious re-thinking to abolish the death sentence and substitute it with a more ‘humanely’ life imprisonment

Describing it as ‘a cruel sentence against human rights’, Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong said the death penalty had proven not to be an effective tool to deter crime.

“Convicts can be prevented from reoffending via life sentence, without the necessity to take their lives,” he argued.

He pointed out that given to the imperfect nature of the justice system, it was impossible to eliminate human error.

However, he said, this flawed system was still being continued to enforce an irreversible and cruel capital punishment that could not deter criminals and prevent crime.

He said a justice system that had not been infallible shall never pass an irreversible and cruel sentence in the name of justice.

“The government should initiate a comprehensive bipartisan discussion on the death penalty.

“It is time for serious rethinking on the death penalty,” said Liew in a statement.

He said in a civilised nation that respected humankind dignity, regard should be had for the legal maxim “better 10 guilty men go free than an innocent man die”.

He cited many nations of seriously rethinking capital punishment as “a barbaric and abhorrent punishment” fundamentally opposed to the nature of human rights.

According to Amnesty International, 30 countries have stopped the use of capital punishment in the last decade.

Liew said in the larger scheme of national safety and crime deterrence, it was crucial for the justice system to ensure that criminals were brought to justice through strong police investigative work with integrity.

“The country’s judicial system shall be just and seen to be just.

“Taking away lives in form of capital punishment has proven could not help to eliminate crime,” he said.

696 awaiting execution

He suggested that for a start, the government should amend the Dangerous Drugs Act to return the discretion of sentencing to the judge.

Currently, the hands of the judges are tied upon conviction as the death penalty was mandatory under Section 39B of the Act.

According to Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein’s reply to Liew’s question last Thursday in Parliament, 441 persons had been sentenced to death since 1960.

As of on Feb 22 this year, another 696 are waiting for execution of their death sentences in Malaysian prisons.

Of the 441 persons hanged, 228 were involved in drug trafficking and 78 were convicted for murder.

Another 130 were for illegal processions of arms, while four more were convicted for waging war against the King. The remaining one was involved in kidnapping.

Among those awaiting the gallows, 479 convicts were involved in drug trafficking, 204 in murders and 13 in illegal processions of arms.

Some of them are in the process of appealing to overturn their convictions and sentences, while several others are seeking pardons from the Pardon Board of respective states.

Among them, 676 are males while 20 are females, while some 90 percent are between 21 and 50 years old. - Free Malaysia Today, 3/4/2011, Time to abolish death sentence

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