Suhakam urges moratorium on executions pending death penalty review

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Source: The Malaysian Insider

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam is hoping Putrajaya also reviews all criminal laws to ensure that any death penalty that could be imposed is only applied for the most serious crimes. – The Malaysian Insider pic, November 18, 2015.

Lauding Putrajaya’s plan to abolish the mandatory death penalty in drug-related offences, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) urged for a moratorium on all executions for the time being.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam also urged for the proposed amendments to the law to be taken to Parliament soon.

In a statement, Hasmy described the government’s plan as a positive development that will bring Malaysia’s position on the issue closer to many countries that have  abolished the mandatory death sentence in recent years.

“The commission recommends that the government consider acceding to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and its Second Optional Protocol, and to aim towards the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, joining approximately 140 of the 193 United Nations Member States that have abolished the death penalty or introduced moratoriums, either in law or in practice,” Hasmy added.

He also suggested that the government review all criminal laws to ensure that the death penalty, if imposed, is applicable only to the most serious crimes as defined by Article 6(2) of the ICCPR.

Yesterday, de facto law minister Nancy Shukri said that Putrajaya planned to table a bill in March next year to abolish the mandatory death penalty in drug-related offences.

She had said this would allow judges to use their discretion to choose between sentencing a person to jail and the gallows in non-criminal cases, such as drug-related offences.

“What we are looking at is the abolition of the mandatory death sentence. It is not easy to amend and we are working on it.

“We can get rid of the word ‘mandatory’ to allow judges to use their discretion in drug-related offences,” she reportedly said.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali had told The Malaysian Insider in an exclusive interview recently that he would propose to the Cabinet that the mandatory death penalty be scrapped, adding that it was a “paradox”, as it robbed judges of their discretion to impose sentences on convicted criminals.

“If I had my way, I would introduce the option for the judge in cases where it involves capital punishment. Give the option to the judge either to hang him or send him to prison.

“Then we’re working towards a good administration of criminal justice,” Apandi told The Malaysian Insider.

He said that this would be in line with the “universal thinking” of capital punishment, although he denied calling for the death penalty to be abolished altogether. – November 18, 2015.