We voted for a moratorium on the death penalty

ON Dec 16, Malaysia voted in support of the resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

The UNGA adopted the resolution with 123 votes in favour, 38 against and 24 abstentions.

The assembly also called on states to “respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, in particular the minimum standards, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of May 25,1984”.

The adoption of this resolution demonstrates a growing trend towards the abolition of the death penalty. In 2018, a similar resolution only had 121 votes in favour, which also included Malaysia. In 2007, there were 104; in 2008, it was 106; in 2010, it was 108. In 2012, it jumped to 111, and in 2016, it was 117. Malaysia voted in favour in 2018 and now again in 2020.

On the same day, the UNGA also adopted a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions by a vote of 132 in favour to none against, with 53 abstentions. The assembly “demanded that states ensure the practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions is brought to an end”.

Malaysia should have already taken the first step with the abolition of the mandatory death penalty earlier in the year but was unfortunately delayed by Covid-19 and changes in government.

Malaysians Against the Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) urges the government to expedite the abolition of the mandatory death penalty, which will then rightfully return the power to the courts to determine the most appropriate sentence based on the facts and circumstances of each case. A mandatory penalty removes a role that should be left to the judiciary in a democracy.

As a next step, Madpet also calls on Malaysia to immediately abolish the death penalty from all offences that do not result in any deaths.

Madpet also calls for the criminalisation of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and for the abolition of all detention without trial laws as well. No one should be detained, restricted and/or punished without being accorded the right to a fair trial.


On behalf of Malaysians Against the Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)

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