Malaysian Bar: Stop corporal punishment now

George Varughese expressed concern with the decision of the state’s Shariah Court, and considered the imposed sentence as a serious cause for concern. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
George Varughese expressed concern with the decision of the state’s Shariah Court, and considered the imposed sentence as a serious cause for concern. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — The Malaysian Bar has called for an immediate moratorium on all forms of corporal punishment following the sentencing of two women in Terengganu to a fine and caning for same-sex relations.

Its president George Varughese expressed concern with the decision of the state’s Shariah Court, and considered the imposed sentence as a serious cause for concern.

“The Malaysian Bar unreservedly opposes corporal punishment as it is a harsh and barbaric form of punishment that causes harmful and long-lasting psychological effects, and has no place in a modern and compassionate society such as ours,” he said in a statement.

George said corporal punishment constituted as a form of torture under international human rights law, with empirical evidence showing it fails as a retributory and deterrent sentence.

“In addition to the moratorium, we also call for the repeal of such provisions in all legislation. The federal government should also accede to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“In doing so the Bar hopes this will be a positive step towards the total abolition of caning or whipping as a form of punishment for all offences,” he said.

He also urged the Terengganu state government to stay the caning of the two women, and to commute their sentencing.

Yesterday Terengganu Shariah High Court registrar Nurulhuda Abd Rahman announced the sentencing, initially set to take place that day, had been postponed to next Monday (Sep 3) due to technical reasons.

The two women aged 22 and 32 are to undergo six strokes of the cane, and are required to pay a fine of RM3,300.

The duo had been sentenced by the court on Aug 12, after they pleaded guilty to musahaqah (female same-sex relations) under Section 30 of the Shariah Criminal Offences Enactment (Takzir) (Terengganu) and under Section 59 for attempting to commit the act.