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Let The Rope Fall, says Amnesty International Malaysia

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

Let The Rope Fall, says Amnesty International Malaysia

 

It is time for Malaysia to demonstrate its commitment towards reforming death penalty laws and put forward amendments to abolish the mandatory death penalty in the next Parliament session, Amnesty International Malaysia says as the world prepares to observe the 14th World Day Against Death Penalty on Monday, 10 October 2016.

In recent years, Malaysia has shown some positive signs in rethinking capital punishment including abolishing the mandatory death penalty for drug-related offences. The government needs to urgently put forward amendments to death penalty laws in the next Parliament session after several unexplained postponements.

Former Law Minister Nancy Shukri had announced last year that death penalty reforms would be put forward in the March 2016 Parliament session. However, this did not come to pass.

“Our concern when it comes to the use of the death penalty is not just that Malaysia remains one of 25 countries to still employ this archaic method of punishment, but also that does so with a lack of transparency. The public rarely has information on who is being executed and for what crimes. Transparency on the use of capital punishment is important as it is an essential safeguard that not only allows for greater scrutiny to ensure the rights of those facing execution are fully respected, but is also a pre-condition for informed and meaningful debates on the issue,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said.

In October 2015, for example, the Prison Department indicated that between 1998 and 2015 there had been 33 executions.  However, Amnesty International, which publishes a yearly report on death sentences and executions globally, recorded only 22 executions in Malaysia for the same period. Globally, Amnesty International recorded 1,634 executions in 25 countries in 2015 alone.

“The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading. In an imperfect world with a fallible justice system, it is never justified to take a life. The death penalty is irreversible and final. Should Malaysia move to abolish the mandatory death penalty for drug-related offences, the international community would view it as a positive first step towards completely removing the death penalty from Malaysia’s law books,” she said.

Amnesty International Malaysia is calling on the Malaysian government – while it still retains the mandatory and discretionary death penalty for various offences – to be accountable for the lives it hangs:

Firstly, lawyers and families need to be provided with adequate notice of imminent executions. This is to allow lawyers and families to seek any available recourse against the execution. Secondly, prisoners, who often serve long years on death row, should also be provided information on the status of their pardon applications. Thirdly, the authorities should also annually publish detailed information on the use of the death penalty including the number of persons sentenced to death, the number of death sentences reversed or commuted on appeal, and the number of instances in which clemency can still be granted.

In 2016, four executions became public knowledge – the hanging of Ahmad Najib Aris on 23 September and the triple executions of brothers Sasivarnam and Ramesh Jayakumar, and Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu on 25 March.

“The logic is simple – why the secrecy if the death penalty is an effective deterrent to crime?”

Amnesty International Malaysia and partner organisations will be launching the #AbolishDeathPenalty 2016 Campaign which targets to provide information to the public about the misconceptions of the death penalty. The first leg of the campaign kicks off at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall from 9 to 16 October. It will feature an art installation which puts the visitor in the shoes of a suspected drug trafficker or a defence lawyer.

The second leg of the campaign will feature a photo exhibition by noted artist Toshi Kazama and the set-up of a mock solitary confinement cell by Amnesty International Malaysia at The Curve from 19 to 23 October.

Two petitions will be placed on amnesty.my on 10 October: the first for the Malaysian government to abolish the death penalty and the second, to call for the commutation of Shahrul Izani Suparman’s death sentence.

“For the last two years, Amnesty International has been campaigning on Shahrul Izani’s behalf because we believe that the death penalty is never the answer. After over 13 years on death row for cannabis possession found when he was riding a friend’s motorcycle, Shahrul Izani needs to be spared the noose,” Shamini said.

 

 

 

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organisation with more than 7 million members in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organisation investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilises the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

 

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For more information or to request an interview please contact:

Santhosh Kannan

Communications Coordinator

Amnesty International Malaysia

+60 12 3322 761 or santhosh@aimalaysia.org

 

Director's Message

Greetings, Human Rights Champions!

Firstly, I would like to wish each one of you a belated Happy 2017 and Gong Xi Fa Cai on behalf of the AI Malaysia crew. I hope you have had an amazing start to 2017! Thank you, also, for the continuous support you have given us throughout 2016.

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