Malaysia: Stop execution of prisoners due to be hanged on Friday
UPDATE 24 MARCH: Three men to be hanged on Friday
In addition to Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu's scheduled execution on Friday, Amnesty International has since learned that his two co-defendants - brothers J Ramesh and Sasivarnam A/ L Jayakumar - are also set to be hanged tomorrow for murder.
When Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s mother went this morning to Taiping Prison to visit her son for the last time and make arrangements for his funeral, family members of his co-defendants were also present for the same reason.
All three prisoners were sentenced to the mandatory death penalty, which gives no discretion to judges to decide on whether the circumstances of a case warrant hanging or imprisonment as punishment.
Following this development, Shamini Darshni, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, said:
“The government of Malaysia must stop playing with people’s lives. They must immediately stop all executions and end the secrecy that surrounds the use of the death penalty in the country. Last-minute notices to the family and no public notification are not the way to handle the extreme seriousness of the taking of people’s lives. Transparency is also a way to ensure that due process has been followed-what is there to hide?”
[Original story from 23 March 2016]:
The Malaysian government must halt the execution of a 34-year-old man due to be hanged this Friday for murder, said Amnesty International.
Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s mother was today advised by officials at Taiping Prison, northern Malaysia, to visit her son for the “last time” and make arrangements for his funeral. Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu was convicted of murder, an offence which attracts the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia.
“Executing Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu would be a regressive step for human rights in Malaysia,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s Deputy Campaign Director for South-East Asia and the Pacific.
“The mandatory death penalty is a clear breach of human rights regardless of the crime committed. The authorities must step in to prevent this brutal act taking place before it is too late, and instead commute Gunasegar’s death sentence.”
Amnesty International has consistently criticized Malaysia’s practice of “secretive” executions. Information on scheduled hangings is not made public before, or even after, they are carried out - contrary to international standards on the use of the death penalty.
Instead, Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s mother Nagarani Sandasamy today received a letter from Taiping Prison officials informing her that he will be executed “soon” and advising her to visit him tomorrow morning. The family was also advised to discuss arrangements to claim the prisoner’s body for his funeral.
The Malaysian government must immediately put in place a moratorium on all executions as a first step towards full abolition of the death penalty.
Nagarani Sandasamy last visited her son a week ago, when neither were aware that the 34-year-old was scheduled to be hanged just a week later.
Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu was sentenced to death for the fatal stabbing of a man in Sungai Petani, Kedah state, on 16 April 2005.
“As discussions on abolishing the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia continue, the Malaysian government must immediately put in place a moratorium on all executions as a first step towards full abolition of the death penalty,” said Josef Benedict.
No information is made publicly available on individual death penalty cases in Malaysia, while families are often informed at the last minute that their loved ones will be executed.
Senior government officials recently said Malaysia was considering abolishing the mandatory death penalty, which is currently the punishment for crimes including murder and drug-related offences.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime, the guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual, or the method used by the state to carry out the execution.
The death penalty violates the right to life and is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment.
International law and standards prohibit the mandatory imposition of the death penalty as constituting arbitrary deprivation of life, as it denies judges the possibility of taking into account the defendant’s personal circumstances or the circumstances of the particular offence.