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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — Civil group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) urged today the federal government to rescue Malaysians on death row abroad after announcing its plan to abolish capital punishment.
LFL adviser N. Surendran praised the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government for its move to table an abolition of laws providing for the death penalty in the next Dewan Rakyat sitting, but said many citizens are awaiting execution in other countries, including just across the Causeway in Singapore, mainly for drug offences.
“At this moment, let us also not forget the many hundreds of Malaysians who are languishing on death row in foreign countries, particularly for being drug mules,” the lawyer said in a statement.
In July last year, S. Prabagaran was hanged in Singapore after he was convicted of drug trafficking, despite calls from the United Nations and others to suspend his execution.
“Having rejected the death penalty in this country, we now have the moral authority to fight for the lives of our citizens abroad,” Surendran said, adding that this must be a priority for the Foreign Ministry and Putrajaya.
The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) said today that the decision to abolish the death penalty infuses Malaysia’s criminal justice system with values that “upholds life and proves its love for its citizenry — no matter how and where and when they have gone wrong”.
Hakam president Gurdial Singh Nijar pointed out that the death penalty is irreversible, putting innocent lives at risk, and abolishing it would relieve judges and the State from deciding on someone’s life.
Gurdial also said that a life sentence with opportunity of parole would provide an opportunity for rehabilitation, and the funds now used for executions can better be used to help families of victims, especially those of the crime of murder.
However, Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) has warned Putrajaya against disappointing Malaysians in enacting the decision, hoping that the Bill will be tabled at least for the first reading at the next immediate session.
“Madpet hopes that MP and Senators from the Opposition parties will fully support the just move to abolish the death penalty,” said its spokesman Charles Hector.
Yesterday, de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said while the government is studying certain cases, as of now, all executions have been halted.
It has been reported that a total of 1,267 prisoners are on death row, while 35 have been executed in the last decade.