Malaysia replaces mandatory death penalty
Singapore, Sep 14 (EFE).- Malaysia announced Wednesday its decision to replace the death penalty with other punishments for 11 crimes that required it, including drug trafficking offenses.
This was stated in a Wednesday statement by Interior Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who said the decision was made after two meetings chaired by him that took place on Sep. 6 and Tuesday.
According to Malaysian agency Bernama, the government reached a preliminary agreement on the amendment to the law, expected to be approved in Parliament from October, to replace the death penalty with other punishments.
Among them are drug trafficking crimes, and 22 other crimes that currently can be punished with the death penalty, at the discretion of the judge.
Murder, drug trafficking, terrorism, kidnapping and possession of firearms are among crimes that carry the death penalty in Malaysia.
Minister Wan Junaidi said Tuesday on Facebook that he remains “committed to fighting for fairer and more compassionate laws in the area of the death penalty and whipping,” after anticipating in June the government’s intention to abolish mandatory capital punishment.
According to rights organization Amnesty International, there are 1,341 people on death row in Malaysia, 905 of them convicted of drug trafficking.
The last known application of the death penalty in Malaysia occurred in 2018, before an official moratorium on executions was imposed that year, according to the organization, which questions how it will proceed if the law is passed to re-sentencing those already convicted.
The relaxation of the death penalty in Malaysia contrasts with the high rate of executions in neighboring Singapore, which since March has hanged 10 prisoners for drug trafficking, sparking criticism from the international community.
Drug crimes are punishable in Southeast Asia with the death penalty in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, while the Philippines and Cambodia have abolished it.
Myanmar had not applied the death penalty since 1988, but in 2021 the military junta began sentencing dissidents and pro-democracy protesters to death and in July 2022 executed four activists. EFE