Malaysian parliament approves abolition of mandatory death penalty
Kuala Lumpur, Apr 3 (EFE).- The Malaysian parliament on Monday approved the abolition of mandatory death penalty, so far applied for 11 crimes including drug trafficking, as part of a reform that is in contrast to harsh punishments being meted out over drug-related crimes in other countries of the region.
The lower house of the parliament voted in favor of reforming the penal code by a majority, after more than a decades of progress in this direction and following a moratorium on executions in 2018, although death sentences continue to be handed out.
According to Amnesty International, currently 1,337 prisoners are on death row in Malaysia, who will now have the option to seek a review of their sentence.
Around 67.5 percent of these prisoners are convicted of drug-trafficking, one of the charges that carried a mandatory death sentence so far, along with crimes such as murder, terrorism, kidnapping and possession of arms.
The new law proposes to replace the death penalty with prison terms of up to 40 years for the 11 crimes carrying the mandatory death sentence so far.
The deputy minister of interior and institutional reforms, Ramkarpal Singh, said in the parliament that the reform was crucial as the death penalty was irreversible and “has not brought the results it was intended to bring,” according to local media outlets.
However, the death sentence can still be given in Malaysia if the judge decides so.
In June, the justice minister at the time, Wan Junaidi, had said that the government was studying alternative punishments to the death penalty.
In the rest of Southeast Asia, death penalty remains in place for some crimes in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, with executions being carried out by hanging, shooting or a lethal injection.
Moreover, the military junta of Myanmar – where no executions had taken place for three decades – recently executed four pro-democracy activists charged with terrorism in July 2022.
Some of the region’s country enforce especially harsh punishments against drug trafficking, with Singapore executing at least 10 people on drug-related crimes last year, an unprecedented figure that attracted criticism from the United Nations. EFE