- Prime Minister, Law Minister and Human Rights Commission of Malaysia
Death Penalty: 441 hanged to death since 1960, another 696 on death row as at 20/2/2011 358 persons were hanged between 1981 and 2005. As at December 2005,about 173 persons are on death row. Between 2000-2010, 9 persons were hanged for murder, 860 sentenced to death in Malaysia - on death row (as of 28/2/2012).
For more information about death penalty in Malaysia, visit the MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) Blog at http://madpet06.blogspot.com/
We, the undersigned welcome Malaysia’s move towards the abolition of the mandatory death penalty for drug offences, and replacing it with jail terms.
Recently, the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz stated that Malaysia is considering withdrawing the mandatory death sentence for drug offences and replacing it with jail terms.(Star,21/10/2012, Death penalty may be scrapped for drug offences).
He also said he will be moving the Malaysian Cabinet to defer the death sentences passed on 675 convicted drug traffickers in the country, while the government reviews the death penalty for drug offences. (The Straits Times, 25/10/2012, Death knell for death penalty in Malaysia?) This follows the statement in July 2012, when Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said that his Chambers was working towards proposing an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to give judges the discretion of not imposing death sentences on couriers(Malay Mail, 12/7/2012, M’sia mulls scrapping death penalty for drug couriers). In its 2009 Universal Periodic Review report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Malaysia also did declare that it was proposing to amend "existing anti-drug trafficking legislation to reduce the maximum sentence to life imprisonment" from the currently practised mandatory death.
Most of the 675 persons on death row for drug trafficking today are "drug mules", some of whom may have even been conned. Drug kingpins are rarely caught. In Malaysia, persons caught with a certain weight of drugs are presumed to be drug traffickers, and the onerous burden of rebutting this presumption shifts to the accused person. This goes against the norm in the criminal justice system, where the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty is on the prosecution. There are also close to 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad, including in China and Singapore, and Malaysia’s plea for clemency is inconsistent if it retains the death penalty.
In March 2012, it was also revealed in Parliament by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein that the mandatory death penalty has been shown to have failed to act as a deterrent. Police statistics for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase. In 2009, there were 2,955 arrested under this section. In 2010, 3,700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, there were 3,845 arrested.(Free Malaysia Today News, 19/3/2012, Death penalty not deterring drug trade)
69%(or 479) of the 696 waiting for execution of their death sentences in Malaysian prisons as on Feb 22, 2011, were for drug offences. Today, there are about 900 on death row.
No legal system in the world is foolproof or error-free. There have been many examples of cases of miscarriage of justice, where innocent persons have been incarcerated for many years, or even sentenced to death. The opportunity to right a wrong is, however, not available since death is irreversible.
SUHAKAM (Malaysian Human Rights Commission) has also called on Malaysia to join the other 140 UN member states to completely abolish the death penalty. The United Nations General Assembly have also adopted Resolutions in 2007, 2008 and 2010 calling for a moratorium on executions, with a view to eventually abolishing the death penalty.
Malaysia has begun commuting death sentence, whereby 5 Filipinos on death row had their sentenced commuted to prison terms earlier this year.
We call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition and for the commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row;
We also call on Malaysia to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).