KUALA LUMPUR: Parliamentarians should educate their constituents on the need to abolish the death penalty, said a human rights activist.
Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) coordinator Charles Hector (pix) said they should also convince their fellow colleagues and respective parties to take a clear stand on the abolishment of the death penalty.
“Since the death penalty exists in the laws, the laws need to be amended or repealed.
“So ultimately the final decision comes to the legislature, which is parliament and they have to pass the required laws to abolish it,” he told the Star Online after a parliamentary roundtable session on the abolishment of the death penalty here on Wednesday.
The session was arranged by the Parliamentary Global Action (PGA) group and attended by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, other parliamentarians, civil society organisations and government officials from other countries.
Hector claimed that he personally knew of parliamentarians from both sides of the divide who are for the abolishment of the death penalty but that a lot were afraid to publicly declare their stand.
“I think any good parliamentarian should not be doing things primarily for the purpose of winning or losing votes. He would not be playing his role to lead and to push for the correct decisions,” he said.
He said that as a very minimum, Malaysia should immediately amend the law to remove the mandatory death penalty for all offences, and not just for drug trafficking cases.
In March, Azalina said the Cabinet agreed to review the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to allow judges to use their discretion in sentencing offenders instead of imposing the mandatory death sentence.
Azalina had said the review will enable judges to mete suitable sentences in marginal cases where offenders could be given jail sentences.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had told parliament in March that 1,122 prisoners were on death row nationwide as of Feb 21.
With nine executions in 2016, Malaysia is among 23 countries that executed 1,032 people globally. This figure excludes China, which Amnesty International believes executes thousands of people yearly.