SUHAKAM disappointed by decision to maintain death penalty
Graphic: Man sits in prison cell
The Malaysian Government has indicated it will abolish the mandatory death penalty, rather than enforce a total abolition across all laws.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has expressed its disappointment at the government's decision to abolish the mandatory death penalty, rather than enforce a total abolition of the death penalty across all laws as it had previously indicated.
SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Razali Ismail said the decision was a "good first step" but that "a discretionary death penalty is still a barrier in the upholding of human dignity and the right to life".
He urged the government to take concurrent steps towards total abolition of the death penalty and move towards ratification of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
"Suhakam is of the view that the death penalty is not an effective, nor even the best, crime prevention mechanism within the system of justice," he said.
Razali noted that 35 executions took place between 2007 and 2017.
He said there was also always the possibility that an innocent person could end up on death row due to reasons ranging from inadequate defence to a misapplication of forensic science.
Graphic: Inmate in outdoor prison yard
Quoting statistics from the Innocence Project, he said the United States has exonerated 364 death row inmates through DNA evidence over 25 years.
"How many people in Malaysia would be freed from death row if something similar were applied here?", Razali asked,
A total of 1,279 people were on death row in Malaysia in October in 2018, with the majority incarcerated on drugs offences.
"Today, 106 countries have abolished the death penalty in recognition that it is cruel and inhumane, and that it does not rehabilitate criminals or address root causes within society which may lead to the enactment of serious crimes."
"Suhakam would like to reiterate its position that the death penalty has no place in a modern legal system as it violates the right to life which happens to be the most basic of all human rights," he said.
He also called for more dialogue between the government and stakeholders to address opposition to the abolishment of the death penalty.
Date: 16 March 2019
- Man sits in prison cell - APF
- Inmate in outdoor prison yard - APF