Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia]: Malaysia has agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty and agreed on a substitute sentence that will be imposed at the discretion of the courts.
This is significant for Southeast Asia where crimes punishable by death include murder, drug trafficking, terrorism, kidnapping and possession of firearms. The Malaysian government arrived at the decision after the presentation of a report on the study of alternative sentences for the mandatory death penalty during the Cabinet meeting on June 8, CNA reported.
Malaysia’s Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Wan Junadi Tuanku Jaafar said capital punishment would be replaced by other types of punishment at the court’s discretion.
“The Cabinet has agreed that further studies and research should be carried out regarding proposed alternative sentences for 11 offences which carry the mandatory death penalty, one offence under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act and 22 offences which carry the death penalty but under the discretion of the court,” the statement read, as quoted by CNA.
Wan Junaidi said the government’s decision showed its priorities in ensuring the protection of all parties’ rights, while reflecting the transparency of the country’s leadership in improving the criminal justice system.
Last month, Zambia announced its plans to abolish the death penalty.
The UN Human Rights Office, OHCHR welcomed the decision, saying that Zambia’s plan to abolish the death penalty adds to the growing global chorus against the practice.
According to the rights groups, the death penalty breaches human rights, in particular the right to life and the right to live free from torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. Both rights are protected under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN in 1948.
In 2021, the most known executions took place in China, Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Syria – in that order, according to Amnesty International.
Excluding China, 80 per cent of all reported executions took place in just three countries – Iran, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia.