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Friday, March 31, 2023

Hakam welcomes the move to abolish mandatory death sentence, but...


The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) has commended the government's move to abolish the mandatory death sentence in the country.

On the same note, its president Gurdial Singh Nijar said the government should also abolish the "barbaric and cruel" whipping as a form of punishment.

"This is a progressive step taken by the government to advance human rights in Malaysia. Mandatory use of the death penalty denies judges the possibility of considering the accused’s mitigating circumstances or the circumstances of the offences, in order to deliver a proportionate and fair sentence.

"Indeed, it is a fundamental infringement of fair trial guarantees and is notably prohibited under international human rights law," Gurdial (above) said in a statement today.

Gurdial was commenting on the forthcoming legal amendments to abolish the mandatory death sentence, which would result in the extension of the maximum prison time by a decade for crimes with capital punishment.

Under the planned amendments, 30 years will be the minimum jail time for offences that previously carried a death sentence, with the maximum being 40 years under several laws - including the Penal Code.

Commenting on this, Gurdial said that imprisonment for natural life should be between 20 and 30 years, and called for the complete abolishment of the death penalty.

"There is no empirical evidence or data that confirms that the death penalty serves as an effective deterrent to crime. On the other hand, the right to life is a fundamental right that must be upheld.

"While the international law allows retentionist countries to keep the death penalty for 'the most serious crime', it must be carried out in adherence to the highest standard of a fair trial, and to move towards total abolition eventually," he said.

Gurdial called on all MPs to support the 'historical' bill with Hakam's proposed amendment to reduce the imprisonment of natural life to 20-30 years and to remove whipping completely.

"We further call for the government to continue the moratorium on executions until the death penalty is abolished and all death sentences commuted."

It is worth noting that the government has tabled another bill that will allow the Federal Court to review and either commute or uphold the death sentences of 840 death row inmates. - Mkini

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