CALL TO ACTION:
The Malaysian Cabinet is expected to convene this month to determine whether the mandatory death sentence should be repealed for several offenses. According to news reports, Law Minister Wan Junaidi said that Cabinet will make a decision on imposing mandatory death sentences by the end of February. Since the moratorium on executions was imposed in 2018, this could be the next big step Malaysia takes towards the goal of complete abolition of the death penalty.
ON SUNDAY 20TH FEBRUARY 4PM-6PM:
Join us in flooding social media platforms, tagging PM Ismail Sabri (@IsmailSabri60 on Twitter and IG) and Law Minister Wan Junaidi (@dswjtj on Twitter; @wanjunaidi_tuankujaafar on IG), and telling them it is time to abolish the death penalty in Malaysia.
Use the hashtags #AbolishTheDeathPenalty #MansuhkanHukumanMati
INFORMATION OF TARGETS
Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri
Facebook Account: https://www.facebook.com/ismailsabri60
Instagram Account: @ismailsabri60
Minister of Law Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar
Facebook Account: https://www.facebook.com/dswanjunaidi
Twitter Account: @dswjtj
Instagram Account: @wanjunaidi_tuankujaafar
SAMPLE TWEETS OR MESSAGES
- The death penalty does not deter crime. Execution does not keep communities safe. End the death penalty now @IsmailSabri60 @dswjtj
- It is time for Malaysia to abolish the death penalty @IsmailSabri60 @dswjtj #AbolishTheDeathPenalty #MansuhkanHukumanMati
- The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. Giving judges discretion on sentencing could be a critical first step towards full abolition @IsmailSabri60 @dswjtj #AbolishTheDeathPenalty #MansuhkanHukumanMati
- The death penalty breaches 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. It is time to end the use of the mandatory death penalty @IsmailSabri60 @dswjtj #AbolishTheDeathPenalty #MansuhkanHukumanMati
- Malaysia, if we are going to sit on the UN Human Rights Council, we should uphold human rights standards. Imposition of the mandatory death penalty is prohibited under int’l human rights law.
- The imposition of the mandatory death penalty is prohibited under international human rights law. Malaysia should fulfil its international human rights obligations and take steps towards full abolition of the death penalty @IsmailSabri60 @dswjtj #AbolishTheDeathPenalty #MansuhkanHukumanMati
- In 1977, only 16 countries had abolished the death penalty. Today, 108 of the world’s countries have abolished the death penalty. It’s time we joined them @IsmailSabri60 @dswjtj #AbolishTheDeathPenalty #MansuhkanHukumanMati
- The death penalty discriminates against the poor, against racial minorities, against women. It is time for abolition. @IsmailSabri60 @dswjtj #AbolishTheDeathPenalty #MansuhkanHukumanMati https://www.amnesty.org/en/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ACT5010782019ENGLISH.pdf
Law Minister Wan Junaidi announced that by the end of February, Cabinet will review and decide on the findings of a special committee tasked in 2019 with studying alternatives to the death penalty, with a view to initiating legislative reforms. This is a KEY OPPORTUNITY for us to call on all Cabinet members to abolish the death penalty for all crimes.
In August 2019, the previous Pakatan Harapan administration created the Special Committee to Review Alternative Punishments to the Mandatory Death Penalty, to study and recommend alternatives to the mandatory death penalty as well as transitional measures for people on death row. The Special Committee conducted consultations with relevant stakeholders across the country and submitted its report to the Government in February 2020. The government collapsed, however, before the bill for the abolition of the death penalty could be tabled by the Parliament. In January 2022, a Minister the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) announced that the findings of the Special Committee will be presented to the Cabinet before the end of February.
There is a real possibility that the government could end the use of the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia, and hopefully abolish the capital punishment for all crimes. There is also a real possibility that they will maintain the mandatory death sentence, which would be a huge blow to the campaign for abolition. We have right now an opportunity for one of the most significant changes in generations – IT IS CRUCIAL WE ACT NOW.
THE DEATH PENALTY IN MALAYSIA
The death penalty is currently retained for 33 offences in Malaysia, including 12 for which it is the mandatory punishment. In recent years it has been used mostly for murder and drug trafficking, but regardless of the offence committed, capital punishment continues to be used in violation of international human rights law and standards.
Amnesty International’s 2019 report Fatally Flawed: Why Malaysia must abolish the death penalty highlighted numerous concerns. These include lack of adequate and timely legal assistance, allegations of torture and other ill-treatment during police interrogation, the reliance on statements or information obtained without a lawyer present, the resort by prosecution to legal presumption of guilt in cases of drug trafficking and a secretive pardons processes.
Who is on death row?
Our analysis of data as at February 2019 showed that of the then 1,281 people on death row, 568 (44%) were foreign nationals. Of the total, 73% were convicted of drug trafficking. This figure rose to a staggering 95% in the cases of women.
In most of the cases Amnesty International reviewed, most of the women and men were convicted after acting as couriers to transport relatively small quantities of drugs, without employing violence. International law prohibits the imposition of the mandatory death penalty and, pending full abolition, only allows the use of this punishment for offences that meet the threshold of the “most serious crimes,” interpreted as referring to intentional killing.
Other concerns cited in Fatally Flawed include how ethnic minorities are over-represented on death row, while the limited available information indicates that a large proportion of those on death row are people from less advantaged socio-economic backgrounds.These findings gain an even greater significance when considered in the context of laws and policies which have added multiple layers of arbitrariness to the use of this punishment.
Since July 2018, Malaysia has placed a moratorium on executions, but people continue to be sentenced to death—as at November 2021, there are 1,359 people on death row.
In May 2018, a new government was elected with a pledge to review the use of the death penalty in Malaysia. As part of its efforts, the government formed a special committee in 2019, tasked with soliciting views across the country on alternatives to the mandatory death penalty for 11 offences. Amnesty International calls for the Malaysian government to seize this opportunity to fully abolish the death penalty,with judges discretion on sentencing a necessary first step.
Soon after the special committee’s findings were submitted in 2020, however, the government collapsed and along with it, the momentum for reform. While the moratorium on executions have remained in place since, the current government has until recently, remained largely silent on efforts to reform the country’s death penalty laws.