It’s a critical step in ensuring human rights, says Amnesty

PETALING JAYA: The tabling of the Bills to end the mandatory death sentence is a critical step to improving the protection of human rights in our criminal justice system, says Amnesty International Malaysia.

Commending the government’s move, the human rights group said the Bills, if successfully adopted, would have a direct impact not only on those on death row but also their family members, who had been long awaiting this reform.

“We call on all members of the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara to lend their support to both Bills,” said its executive director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv.

“The removal of the mandatory death penalty is an important step, but it should not be the last. Malaysia can and must swiftly work towards ending this cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment once and for all,” she said in a statement yesterday.

She, however, noted that it was imperative for the authorities to ensure any re-sentencing was in line with international fair trial standards.

“This means ensuring that those applying have adequate time, resources and access to legal representation to support their application.

“This is important as many of those facing the death sentence come from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds or are foreign nationals,” she said.

She also voiced concerns over whipping, which would remain part of the alternative punishments available to judges under the proposed law.

“As Malaysia progresses towards eliminating the mandatory death penalty, Malaysian leaders must ensure that any alternative punishments are not in contravention to the prohibition against torture or other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment,” she said.

She added that the moratorium on hangings must stay until all inmates on death row had filed their applications for review.

Yesterday, several crucial Bills were tabled in Dewan Rakyat to pave the way for the abolition of the mandatory death sentence while also criminalising livestreaming sex involving children.

Among the Bills tabled were the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 and the Revision of Sentences of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Bill 2023.

The proposed laws will see the end of the mandatory death sentence and hand discretion to the courts, which can impose life sentences and whipping instead.

The Bills are expected to be passed into law by the end of the current Dewan Rakyat meeting on April 4.

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