Malaysia to abolish death penalty; Bill may be tabled soon

Mahathir Mohamad

Mahathir Mohamad

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, who is the de facto law minister, said the only issue was what to do with the convicts now on death row.

"I hope the law will be amended soon", he said.

Surendran claimed there were now "hundreds of Malaysians" on death row in foreign countries, particularly for being drug mules.

On the World Day Against Death Penalty, opposition Senator Leila De Lima called for a renewed and sustained campaign against the imposition of death penalty in the Philippines.

LFL adviser N Surendran said having rejected the death penalty in Malaysia, the government had "the moral authority to fight for the lives of citizens abroad".

Liew added that all the paperwork for the abolishment of the law is in its final stages, and that the Attorney General (AG) had given the green light for it to be tabled in Parliament.

The minister also called for a moratorium on all executions until the death penalty is abolished.

A Malaysian court previous year ruled the case could proceed against Indonesian national Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam after Kim Jong Nam's murder at Kuala Lumpur Airport.

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"The reprieve can be in the form of a life sentence", Gurdial Singh, president of the National Human Rights Society, told AFP.

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.

Former Malaysian police officer Sirul Azhar Umar was convicted in Malaysia for the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006, but fled to Australia.

Countries are reminded that the death penalty is a violation of human rights.

Between 2007 and 2017, 35 individuals faced the gallows.

The government chose to scrap capital punishment because the Malaysian public had shown they were against the death penalty, Gobind said. An example would be drug-related cases whereby due consideration should to be given to drug mules (currently tried under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death sentence) as opposed to those who were found guilty of a more serious crime. 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.

The UN envoy noted the majority of executions today are carried out in China, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia.

In Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand have death penalty laws.

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