Call for moratorium on executions with a view to abolish the death penalty

It is high time for Malaysia to review the death penalty as it is an archaic form of punishment that is inconsistent with international norms. I urge the government to at least review laws that allow the mandatory death sentence and to return discretion to the judges.

While the laws are being reviewed, there is a need to halt executions through a moratorium until the review process is completed.

In October 2012, then de facto Law Minister Nazri Aziz had announced that the Attorney-General’s Chamber would consider imposing jail terms instead of the mandatory death sentence for some drug offences.

The amendment would have empowered judges to replace the death sentence with jail time for drug mules.

However, there have been no such amendments made and the Malaysian death penalty stands.

Earlier, I was made to understand from the Ministry that there was no executions last year, but I was shocked to note in the latest parliamentary reply that 26 offenders have been executed from 2000 to July 2013. Of this figure, 22 were Malaysians, 3 Nigerians and 1 Singaporean.

The death sentence is a punishment that is both inhumane and irreversible. The impossibility of eliminating human error and the ineffectiveness of the sentence as deterrent also raises many issues.

As of 10 June 2013, a total of 964 offenders have been found guilty and sentenced to the death penalty by the High Court. Of this figure, 912 are male offenders and 52 are female offenders. 647 of these death row inmates are Malaysians (67%) and 317 of these death row inmates are foreigners (33%).

This has been an increase since 28 February 2012 when there were 860 death row inmates awaiting appeal while as of 22 February 2011, there were 696 waiting on death row.

According to the Home Ministry, between 1960 and February 2011, 441 persons had been hanged. Of the 441 persons hanged, 228 were involved in drug trafficking and 78 were convicted for murder. Another 130 were for illegal possessions of firearms, while four more were convicted for waging war against the King. The remaining one was involved in kidnapping.

Liew Chin Tong DAP Political Education Director & MP for Kluang