End all death sentences, freeze executions, rights group tells Putrajaya

HAKAM’s Datuk Seri Ambiga Sreenevasan hopes that the Government will continue taking steps in the right direction towards the ultimate abolishment of the death penalty. ― File pic
HAKAM’s Datuk Seri Ambiga Sreenevasan hopes that the Government will continue taking steps in the right direction towards the ultimate abolishment of the death penalty. ― File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 ― Putrajaya should expand its plan to drop mandatory death sentences for drug offences and discontinue capital punishment entirely, said the National Human Rights Society of Malaysia (HAKAM).

HAKAM president Datuk Seri Ambiga Sreenevasan also said that the government must refrain from carrying out any execution of the 1,022 inmates with death sentences while it is reviewing the use of the death penalty.

“The mandatory death sentence deprives the sentencing judge of the discretion to consider all relevant facts of the case and the individual circumstances of each convicted person.

“A sentencing judge must be given the option to impose the appropriate sentence,” she said in a statement.

The human rights lawyer said the death penalty violates the right to life as guaranteed under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution and is “undoubtedly a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment”, contrary to international law.

She cited a recent public opinion survey on death penalty in Malaysia that was conducted by Emeritus Professor Roger Hood QC from the University of Oxford, which showed that most Malaysians do not support an imposition of the death penalty.    

“Having been on the Human Rights Council and presently on the Security Council as a non-permanent member, Malaysia must show a genuine commitment to abide by international norms in relation to the right to life and the prohibition against cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.

“We hope that the Government will continue taking steps in the right direction towards the ultimate abolishment of the death penalty,” she said.

On Tuesday, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri said she hoped to take her proposal to amend the Penal Code and abolish the mandatory death sentence to the Dewan Rakyat as early as March next year.

Under Malaysia’s current laws, convictions for firearms, drugs, treason and murder-related offences must result in the death sentence.

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