Malaysia: Authorities must turn death penalty Bill into meaningful opportunity for human rights change


Ahead of the discussion on Wednesday 29 November 2017 at the Malaysian Parliament on draft amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act, 1952, Amnesty International issued a short statement outlining the organization’s concerns on the proposed measure.

Announcing the statement, Gwen Lee, Acting Executive Director at Amnesty International Malaysia said:

“Reforms to Malaysia’s mandatory death penalty laws have been long in the making and it is incredibly disappointing to see the limited changes the Government of Malaysia are proposing. The Bill as currently drafted not only retains the features of the current laws that have been a matter of serious concern, such as the mandatory death penalty and the use of this punishment for drug-related offences. It also hands over the decision on sentencing in some cases from the judges to the prosecution, undermining the critical balance of powers that is a cornerstone of justice systems all over the world.”

“The Members of Parliament of Malaysia must seize the opportunity of this week’s debate to real positive human rights change in the country. They must act to address the wrongs in the Bill, end executions and take Malaysia closer to ridding itself of this ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment”.

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For more information or to arrange an interview, please call Amnesty International Malaysia’s office in Petaling Jaya, Selangor on:
+603 7955 2680 or
email: [email protected]
twitter & facebook: @AmnestyMy


On 23 November 2017 the Government of Malaysia introduced in Parliament draft amendments to Section 39(B) of the Dangerous Drug Act, 1952. In “Malaysia: Action needed to make death penalty bill meaningful opportunity for change” (ACT 50/7510/2017) Amnesty International outlines its concerns on the Bill, which would introduce sentencing discretion only for the very narrow circumstances of carrying, sending or delivering prohibited substances in cases where the public prosecution certifies that the individual has assisted law enforcement in disrupting drug trafficking activities. The mandatory death penalty is retained for all other instances.

Malaysia is among the minority of countries – 23 in 2016 – that still execute people and among the only seven countries where people were executed for drug-related offences last year, according to information gathered by Amnesty International. In March 2017 figures released by the Government of Malaysia indicated that 799 out of 1,122 people on death row had been convicted of and sentenced to the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, including 416 foreign nationals.

Amnesty International opposes the death penalty unconditionally in all circumstances and campaigns for the establishment of a moratorium on executions and commutation of death sentences as first steps towards full abolition of the death penalty.