Malaysia: Parliament must consign death penalty to the history books

Responding to the Malaysian government’s announcement today that it plans to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:

"Today’s announcement is a major step forward for all those who have campaigned for an end to the death penalty in Malaysia. Malaysia must now join the 106 countries who have turned their backs for good on the ultimate cruel, inhumane, degrading punishment – the world is watching.

Malaysia’s resort to the death penalty has been a terrible stain on its human rights record for years.
Kumi Naidoo, Amnesty International's Secretary General

“Malaysia’s resort to the death penalty has been a terrible stain on its human rights record for years. In Malaysia death row prisoners are often cruelly kept in the dark about the outcome of their clemency applications and notified of their executions just days or hours before they happen.

“With a bill on abolition set to be tabled next week, we are calling on the Malaysian Parliament to completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions. There is no time to waste – the death penalty should have been consigned to the history books long ago. Malaysia’s new government has promised to deliver on human rights and today’s announcement is an encouraging sign, but much more needs to be done."

Background

The Minister of Law in the Prime Minister's Office, Datuk Liew Vui Keong, today announced that the Cabinet has decided to abolish the death penalty for all crimes. A bill with this aim is due to be tabled in the next Parliament sitting, which begins on October 15. Malaysia announced a moratorium on executions in July 2018.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally and has been campaigning for its abolition for over 40  years.  As of today, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

10 October is World Day Against the Death Penalty. One emblematic case that Amnesty is highlighting is Hoo Yew Wah’s, from Malaysia. Sentenced to death at a young age for drug trafficking, he is asking to be given a second chance. Although the authorities have suspended the implementation of executions, Hoo Yew Wah is yet to find out if his 2014 clemency appeal has been successful. He was sentenced to the mandatory death penalty in May 2011 after he was forced to sign a self-incriminating statement.