Human Rights Day 2019 – HAKAM Urges Government to Expedite Pro-Human Rights Reforms

In conjunction with Human Rights Day on 10th December 2019, HAKAM urges the Government to expeditiously fulfill its manifesto promises in respect of human rights reforms.

There is no doubt that the Government has achieved praiseworthy progress on the human rights front. Some of these include:

  • lowering the voting age to 18;
  • automatic voter registration;
  • abolishing the Anti-Fake News Act 2018;
  • amending the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012;
  • creating the environment for a relatively freer press;
  • appointing independent & credible judges to key positions in the Judiciary;
  • tabling SUHAKAM report for debate in Parliament for the first time in 19 years; and
  • establishing a Parliamentary Select Committee on Human Rights & Constitutional Affairs and a Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender Equality & Family Development;

But the Pakatan Harapan Government was elected on 9th May 2018 by an electorate which expects more substantial human rights reforms and cementing of the rule of law. It has been 1 ½ years since the Government was elected into power, yet there is much more that needs to be done.

HAKAM hereby urges the Government to quicken its pace and to steadfastly carry out the following human rights reforms in Malaysia:

  • Establish an effective Independent Police Complaints & Misconduct Commission (IPCMC);
  • Abolish the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA);
  • Abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA);
  • Abolish the Prevention of Crime Act 1959;
  • Abolish the Sedition Act 1948;
  • Abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984;
  • Abolish the National Security Council Act 2016;
  • Abolish the death penalty in all forms; and
  • Enact a Freedom of Information Act

There will no doubt be forces which will resist such reforms. But all of these reforms are promises which were made in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto. The Government must be bold and resolute in fulfilling the same.

Rest assured that civil society and many segments of the rakyat will be behind the Government in carrying out such reforms.

Lim Wei Jiet

Secretary-General of HAKAM

New drug law would give AGC power of life and death, says MP

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Putrajaya’s proposal to make the death penalty optional could instead allow the Attorney-General’s Chambers to decide if an accused should die for his crime, said PKR’S N. Surendran.

Criticising the government for stopping short of removing the death penalty in the proposed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, the Padang Serai MP said the change would mean the courts could only opt for a lesser sentence if the prosecutor was agreeable.

“The Bill does not go far enough, gives the power to decide life or death to the public prosecutor and is in breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.

“The new amendments are thus a serious trespass upon judicial authority and infringe the constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers. The act of sentencing and the type of sentence must be purely a judicial exercise, without any involvement whatsoever of the executive. Read more

Abolition of the Mandatory Death Penalty – No More Delay! — Malaysian Bar

Press Release

Abolition of the Mandatory Death Penalty — No More Delay!

The World Day against the Death Penalty is commemorated on 10 October each year.

In Malaysia, the death penalty is mandatory for persons convicted of murder, trafficking in narcotics of various amounts, and discharging a firearm in the commission of various crimes (even where no one is hurt).

The Malaysian Bar has been, and remains, in the frontline of the battle to uphold and preserve the rule of law, fundamental constitutional rights, the administration of justice, and law and order. In this regard, we have consistently called for the abolition of the death penalty. The Malaysian Bar at its Annual or Extraordinary General Meetings in 1985, 2006, 2012 and 2015 passed resolutions condemning the death penalty and/or calling for its abolition.

The campaign to abolish the death penalty is not meant to confer licence to commit serious crimes with impunity.  Persons convicted of serious crimes must receive proportionate punishment.  But this does not mean that they therefore ought to die. Read more

Government, people care little about death penalty, says Bar

Source: FMT News 

KUALA LUMPUR: A lack of concern by the government has led to the people also viewing the issue of the mandatory death penalty in the country as being of little importance, the Malaysian Bar said today.

The Bar’s human rights committee co-chairman Andrew Khoo said only opposition parties seem to care, and consider the abolition of the mandatory death penalty an issue that needs more attention.

He said one of the reasons behind the failure to support the move may be the government’s observation that there are many developed or first world countries also carrying out capital punishment. Read more

Brother of death-row inmate harbours hope to save him

Source: FMT News 

KUALA LUMPUR: There was a time when Sum Ah Yoon never had an opinion about the death penalty, but that changed when his younger brother was sentenced to the gallows in January 2009.

“I am against it. My brother deserves a second chance at life,” the 60-year old retired banker said.

“Maybe one day your family member will become a victim. You never know,” he said on the sidelines of a conference and training workshop titled “Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia and Asia Pacific” here yesterday. Read more

Lawyer says execution of two men an ‘unlawful act’

Source: FMT News

Family of executed brothers wants authorities to explain why they were hanged in a rush, with legal process not exhausted, says lawyer N Surendran. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The family of Rames and Suthar Batumalai, who were hanged four months ago over the murder of a man, is seeking explanations over their execution.

The family’s lawyer N Surendran, in a press conference today, said the family wants the Kajang prison authorities and the home ministry to explain why the execution was carried out without exhausting the legal process.

“When the execution was carried out, the outcome of the clemency petition was still pending. “A clemency petition is part of the legal process, not some discretion. It is not a privilege, but a legal right. Read more

Amnesty criticises two ‘secretive executions’, calls for moratorium on death penalty

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said that by providing limited notice, the authorities are also denying the convicts a chance to seek further review of their cases. — Picture by Siow Saw Feng for the MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Amnesty International Malaysia criticised prison authorities for executing two men earlier today at the Sungai Buloh prison in a secretive manner.

The NGO also demanded the government to establish a moratorium on carrying out death penalties.

In a statement, Amnesty said that 48-year-old Yong Kar Mun, who was convicted of discharging a firearm during robbery, and another individual convicted of murder, were both executed at 5.30am today.

Yong’s execution was allegedly carried out with limited notice, with the family only being informed of the execution less than 24 hours before it was carried out, while no information has been made available on the second convict who was also executed.

“The secretive way through which the Malaysian authorities have been carrying out executions is plain cruel. In these and previous executions, the authorities have added considerable distress to the prisoners and their families and shown blatant disregard for international law and standards ­­— it is high time this practice stopped,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said. Read more

Amnesty wants halt to execution of death row inmate

Source: FMT News

It adds that according to international law, the mandatory death penalty can only be handed out for ‘the most serious crimes’ such as intentional killings. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Amnesty International Malaysia wants the government to immediately halt the execution of a man on death row, expected to take place any time within the next 72 hours.

It said Yong Kar Mun, 48, had “days, if not hours, left to live”, adding that based on existing practice, the execution was expected to take place this week.

“Yong’s family received a letter by hand from the Sungai Buloh Prison at 2pm today, asking the family to visit him for the last time tomorrow at 9am. Read more

Amnesty’s concerns over ‘diyat’ for death row convicts

Source: FMT News

Human rights body says ‘diyat’ inconsistent with international human rights laws and is discriminatory as it puts the poor at a disadvantage. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Amnesty International Malaysia says it has several concerns over the Pahang Pardons Board’s plans to adopt the Islamic law of “diyat” as an alternative to granting pardons to convicts awaiting the death sentence.

AI Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said these concerns included the “diyat” not being consistent with international human rights laws, giving a private individual the power to decide on a person’s life and the “discriminatory nature” of the “diyat”, which puts the poor at a disadvantage.

“Any alternative to hanging a human being is a welcome move. However, we need to consider the roles of the pardons board and the state in deciding whether to preserve or end human life.

“Amnesty International Malaysia believes that power to end life should never lie in the hands of the state as much as it should not lie in the hands of private individuals,” she said, adding it was the discretion of state pardons boards to offer clemency. Read more

Royal pardon, end to death penalty sought during coronation

Source: FMT News

Human rights lawyer P Uthayakumar says prisoners deserve a second chance to make amends for past mistakes. Pic from FMT News.

Human rights lawyer P Uthayakumar says prisoners deserve a second chance to make amends for past mistakes. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Human rights lawyer P Uthayakumar has appealed for a royal pardon to commute death sentences and reduce jail terms for prisoners in conjunction with the official installation of Sultan Muhammad V as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong tomorrow.

In a letter to Prime Minister Najib Razak today, he also asked that the death penalty be abolished, saying Malaysia was supposed to mature into a civil and developed society by 2020.

The lawyer asked Najib to advise the Royal Pardons Board to announce that prisoners facing death row, natural life and life imprisonment have their sentences respectively commuted to life imprisonment, maximum 20 years jail and 15 years jail. Read more