Thursday, 12 April 2007

Malaysia: Expanded penalty condemned

Malaysian human rights activists have condemned the reported expansion of the death penalty for terrorism offences.

Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET) said in a statement on 20 March it was "shocked and disappointed" at the new offence, which applies a mandatory death sentence for terrorist acts that cause death.

A second offence applies the death penalty to people convicted of giving financial aid to terrorists.

The new laws reportedly came into effect on 6 March, one day after they were gazetted by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz.

MADPET said, however, Minister Aziz was reported in 2006 as saying: "For me, a life is a life. No one has the right to take someone else's life, even if that person has taken another life..."

The wrong direction
The organisation said the death penalty was an unsafe and unnecessary response to serious crime.

"It is not possible in any system of human justice to prevent the horrifying possibility of the execution of innocent persons; and the infliction of the death penalty makes wrongful convictions irreversible.

"In an age, when it is possible to isolate persons guilty of the most heinous of crimes from society by the imposition of life imprisonment, there can be no more justification for the usage of the death penalty," it said.

The statement said 128 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice, compared to the 69 countries that retain and use it.

"It is ironic that at a time when the nations of the world are rapidly moving towards abolition of the death penalty, Malaysia is once again unnecessarily and imprudently extending the range of capital offences," MADPET said.

Calls for abolition
The organisation pointed out that a Malaysian television poll conducted last year showed 64% in favour of abolishing the death penalty.

The poll was conducted on 7 May 2006, during the Hello on Two programme, which "has an estimated audience of 80,000".

In March 2006, the country's peak legal organisation the Malaysia Bar passed a resolution calling for an end to the death penalty and for all death sentences to be commuted.

Related stories:
Malaysia's 'inexcusable' position on death penalty -- 22 July, 2006
Malaysia: Life sentence under the noose - 21 July, 2006
Malaysia: Opposition to water pollution death sentences - 09 May, 2006
Malaysia may execute water polluters -- 29 April, 2006
Renewed debate on death penalty in Malaysia -- 23 March, 2006
Malaysian lawyers against the death penalty -- 21 March, 2006
Malaysia PM defends death for drug offenders -- 24 February, 2006

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note that Iraq's use of the death penalty has risen rapidly since it was reinstated in mid 2004 and it now ranks as the country with the fourth highest rate of executions in the world, Amnesty International said on Friday.The London based human rights group said in a report that Iraq had sentenced more than 270 people to death since sovereignty was handed back to the Iraqis by the Americans in mid 2004. Of those, at least 100 have so far been executed.

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