Monday, 22 October, 2018

Malaysia says it will end death penalty for all crimes

Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto leaves following her release at the High Court in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto leaves following her release at the High Court in Shah Alam outside Kuala Lumpur Credit Lai Seng Sin REUTERS
Pablo Mccormick | 12 October, 2018, 05:23

The Cabinet has made a decision to abolish the death penalty, and it will be tabled in the next Parliament sitting, which will begin on October 15, said Datuk Liew Vui Keong.

Liew said the necessary paperwork to abolish the death penalty which is now in its the final stages had received the go ahead from the Attorney General Chambers to be tabled in Parliament.

It said the death penalty has been a "terrible stain" on Malaysia's human rights record, and death row prisoners often have to wait years for their appeals to be processed.

Two Chilean tourists, now on trial for the murder of a Malaysian man, would also have faced the death penalty if found guilty of murder.

However, Liew said that if their sentence is commuted then the inmates will have to face life imprisonment because they have been the cause of several deaths, which is why they were given the death penalty in the first place.

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Executions are now mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms and drug trafficking, among other crimes, and is carried out by hanging - a legacy of British colonial rule.

Its promises included eradicating corruption and bolstering human rights.

The government's announcement was "an encouraging sign", Amnesty International's Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.

Malaysia's cabinet has ordered the suspension of the colonial-era Sedition Act, widely used to rein in dissent, and is working on doing the same for the death penalty as it prepares to repeal both laws possibly by the end of the year.

Lawyers for Liberty also welcomed the government's decision.

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Once capital punishment is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences overseas, he added.

Amnesty International said the move would be a major advance but urged the government to "completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions".

The minister finally revealed that the paperwork for the abolishment of the death penalty is nearly done.

Only 23 countries retain the death penalty, with China believed to be the "world's top executioner", according to Amnesty International in its report last month on capital punishment in 2017.

De Lima said that as a human rights defender and legislator, she has pushed for the introduction of the penalty of qualified reclusion perpetua in criminal laws to ensure restorative justice instead of punitive measures.

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"Our view is that executions should not be carried out".

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