The Malaysian government should extend the reprieve from caning granted to Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno indefinitely after Ramadan and use this as an opportunity to abolish the punishment, Amnesty International said on Tuesday. More than 35,000 people have been caned in Malaysia since 2002.
Recent photographic evidence of the physical scars left after detainees have been caned obtained by Amnesty International, demonstrate the level of injury inflicted by this form of punishment. The photos show the damage and scarring that just two caning strokes continue to cause months after the actual punishment has been executed.
"These images show the harsh reality of this punishment. Tens of thousands of people in Malaysia have been subjected to this cruel form of punishment without any attention from inside or outside the country. Now that the issue of caning has come on the public agenda, it's time for the Malaysian government to act immediately to get rid of caning altogether," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific director.
In July, an Amnesty International delegation travelled to Malaysia and were granted access to three detention facilities south of Kuala Lumpur, where they were able to photograph detainees who said that they had been caned whilst serving their sentences in prison.
Caning is mostly used as punishment for migrant labourers for immigration offences. Immigrants who are convicted of illegal entry are normally caned up to three times, although the country’s Immigration Act allows for them to be caned up to six times.
In June 2009 the Malaysian government announced that they had sentenced 47,914 migrants to be caned for immigration offences since amendments to its Immigration Act came into force in 2002.
Amnesty International has called on the government of Malaysia to repeal all laws that allow caning and other forms of corporal punishment.
"The outcry surrounding Kartika's case highlights the need for the Malaysian government to stop the practice of caning altogether," Sam Zarifi said.