'End death penalty now', United Nations chief urges countries

Pauline Gross
October 12, 2018

Malaysia's new government said it will abolish the death penalty for all crimes and halt all pending executions, a rare move against capital punishment in Asia that human rights groups hailed Thursday as a major advance.

On Wednesday, Liew Vui Keong, the minister in charge of law, said the cabinet had made a decision to repeal the death penalty.

"The AG has also indicated to us that it is ready to be tabled, hopefully in this (Parliamentary) session", he said.

"We are calling on the Malaysian parliament to completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions", Amnesty secretary-general Kumi Naidoo said in the statement.

There are no jury trials in Malaysia for capital punishment.

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.

Capital punishment is 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.

Foreign embassies and rights groups were supportive of the move.

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The UN chief argued that legal representation or transparent criminal proceedings might have spared them from the death penalty.

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.

"Prisoners under sentence of death must be treated with humanity and dignity and held in conditions that meet global human rights law and standards", the organisation said in a statement on Wednesday, which is World Day Against the Death Penalty.

Between 2007 and 2017, 35 individuals faced the gallows.

Amnesty International has called on governments to put an end to the death penalty.

Malaysian rights advocates welcomed the decision, saying there was never any proof that mandatory death sentences deterred offenders from violent or drug-related crimes.

Surendran urged the government to not forget the hundreds of Malaysians who are languishing on death row in Singapore and other countries, particularly for being drug mules.

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

Other reports by GizPress

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