10 APRIL 2019

The Cabinet must swiftly bring the bills on the abolition of the mandatory death penalty to be debated and passed in Parliament in the next sitting to avoid further delay.

“The abolition of the mandatory death penalty is a step in the right direction in keeping with global trends. More and more countries are rendering the death penalty to the history books and Malaysia will do well to follow suit,” Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia said in conjunction with the Malaysia launch of Amnesty International’s Death Sentences and Executions 2018 report released worldwide today.

On 5 April 2019 Law Minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong announced that the process to abolish the mandatory death penalty was still ongoing as the government had to deal with issues related to the imposition of a moratorium against executions.

The process is expected to be completed in June and in time for the July sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.

“There is enough evidence that the time to end this cruel and inhumane punishment is now, thus we urge the Cabinet to abolish the mandatory death penalty as a first step towards total abolition,” Shamini said.

In December, the government made history when it voted in favour of the seventh UN resolution calling on states that still retain the death penalty to establish a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing this punishment.

“As the bill has not been put to Parliament yet, we urge the Cabinet to reconsider its decision and abolish the death penalty in totality in the next Parliament sitting. We call on the government to continue raising awareness on the cruelty and ineffectiveness of the death penalty and get back on the track towards human rights reforms,” said Shamini. 

The Death Sentences and Executions 2018 report covers the judicial use of the death penalty from January to December 2018. As in previous years, information is collected from a variety of sources, including official figures, court judgments, information from individuals sentenced to death, their families and representatives, reporting by other civil society organisations, and media reports.

Data on Malaysia made available to Amnesty International showed that 190 death sentences were imposed in 2018 for various crimes. No known executions were carried out during the reporting period.  

Those sentences to death in 2018 included 72% for drug-related offences, 25% for murder, 2% for firearms offences and 2% for kidnapping and murder. Foreign nationals were involved in 32% of these cases, including 38% for drug-related offences and 19% for murder. Other offences for which the death penalty was imposed include illegal possession of guns, crimes involving declarations of war on the head of state, kidnapping, robbery resulting in death and an offence under the Internal Security Act, which had been since repealed.

The report also highlighted the amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, adopted by Parliament at the end of 2017 and which came into effect in March last year. The amended law retained the mandatory death penalty for all circumstances of drug trafficking but for those convicted of transporting, sending or delivering a prohibited substance who were also found to have co-operated with law enforcement in disrupting drug trafficking activities – an extremely narrow range of circumstances. Contrary to international law and standards on reform, the revised law did not apply to individuals who had previously been convicted.

The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception – regardless of who is accused, the nature or circumstances of the crime, guilt or innocence or method of execution.

To download the report, please visit