Monday, July 22, 2024

Despite Repeal of Death Penalty, Malaysia Continues to Violate International Law, Says Amnesty International

Amnesty International Highlights Human Rights Concerns Despite Malaysia’s Repeal of Mandatory Death Penalty

Amnesty International Raises Concerns About Malaysia’s Compliance with International Human Rights Standards

One year after Malaysia abolished the mandatory death penalty, Amnesty International has raised concerns about ongoing violations of international human rights standards. The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 led to a decrease in death sentences and a reduction in the death row population, but the human rights organization’s assessment reveals that Malaysia’s use of the death penalty and alternative punishments continues to breach international law.

Under the revised legislation, judges now have the discretion to impose sentences such as imprisonment terms of 30-40 years and whipping for crimes that previously mandated death. While this has resulted in fewer death sentences, with only 45 out of 274 cases ending in capital punishment, Amnesty International highlights concerns regarding drug-related offenses, which still account for 49% of cases where the death penalty was imposed or upheld.

Despite a government-imposed moratorium on executions in 2018, there is no guarantee of its continuance until the death penalty is fully abolished. Amnesty International is calling on the Malaysian government to extend the moratorium indefinitely, commute all death sentences, and make legislative reforms to eliminate the death penalty for drug trafficking and remove legal presumptions of guilt.

The issue of corporal punishment is also a significant concern, with over half of individuals spared from the death penalty being subjected to mandatory whipping. Amnesty International condemns this practice as cruel, inhuman, and degrading, and calls for legislative amendments to abolish corporal punishment.

Access to legal counsel is another problematic issue highlighted by reports indicating that nearly half of individuals charged with capital crimes appeared in court without representation, despite the existence of legal aid schemes.

Amnesty International’s recommendations include extending the moratorium on executions, repealing the death penalty for drug-related offenses, abolishing corporal punishment, ensuring fair trial standards, and publishing comprehensive data on the use of the death penalty. The organization is also urging Malaysia to ratify the Convention Against Torture and support the UN General Assembly resolution on a moratorium on the death penalty.

While the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia signifies progress, significant issues remain. The government must address these systemic flaws to align its practices with international human rights standards and work towards the complete abolition of the death penalty.

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