SEPT 19 — The Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (Adpan) welcomes the announcement by the Malaysian Minister of Law Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi that the Malaysian government has finalised its policy decision on alternative sentences for the mandatory death penalty. The Minister of Law also suggested that the bill will be tabled in Parliament for the first reading on 4th October 2022 and aim to pass it by 22nd November 2022.

Malaysia has made significant steps towards the abolition of the mandatory death penalty since the idea was agreed upon by the government in 2013. In the past decade, Malaysia has amended the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 in 2017 and introduced an official moratorium against all execution implemented by the cabinet in 2018. Malaysia has also successively supported the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Moratorium on the Use of the Death penalty since 2018.

The mandatory death penalty is considered an arbitrary deprivation of life and violates the right to a fair trial. Mandatory sentencing deprives judges of the possibility to consider the circumstances of the offence and the individual involved in the determination of his sentence. Such practice will inevitably result in absurd situations where individuals with substantial mitigating circumstances are sent to the gallows.

The mandatory death penalty is considered an arbitrary deprivation of life and violates the right to a fair trial. ― AFP file pic
The mandatory death penalty is considered an arbitrary deprivation of life and violates the right to a fair trial. ― AFP file pic

The abolition of the mandatory death penalty will bring Malaysia closer in line with the global trend towards abolition and provide greater opportunities for Malaysia to further improve its criminal justice system. As such, the abolition of the mandatory death penalty must come with substantial reform to the criminal justice system, prioritizing rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders back into society whenever prudent. Those on death row for non-violent offences must be given an opportunity and consideration for rehabilitation and release at the soonest.

To this end, Adpan calls on the Malaysian government to support the initiatives toward the abolition of the mandatory death penalty is passed in the upcoming Parliament seating and for a bi-partisan committee to oversee the effective implementation of the abolition of the mandatory death penalty. Malaysia's policy should also be reflected in its international engagement through the continued support of the UNGA Moratorium on the Use of the Death Penalty.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.