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Malaysia to end death penalty for all crimes

Malaysia to end death penalty for all crimes
PM Mahathir Mohamad’s alliance, which won a stunning election upset this year, had promised to uphold human rights.
Kuala Lumpur, Oct 11 (AP) | Publish Date: 10/11/2018 11:04:07 AM IST

Malaysia’s new government said it will abolish the death penalty for all crimes and halt all pending executions, a rare move against capital punishment in Asia that human rights groups hailed Thursday as a major advance.

More than 1,200 people are on death row in Malaysia, which mandates hanging as punishment for a wide range of crimes including murder, drug trafficking, treason, kidnapping and acts of terror.

Law Minister Liew Vui Keong announced Wednesday that the Cabinet had agreed to abolish the death penalty and that amendments to laws with capital punishment were expected to be presented when Parliament resumes Monday, local media reported. 

Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo on Thursday confirmed the Cabinet’s decision. “This is part of our election pledge and also in line with the move away from capital punishment in the rest of the world,” he said.

Amnesty International said the move would be a major advance but urged the government to “completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions.” 

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s alliance won a stunning election upset on May 9, ousting a scandal-tainted coalition in the first change of government since independence from Britain in 1957. Its promises included eradicating corruption and bolstering human rights.

The Malaysian human rights group Lawyers for Liberty praised the government’s decision, saying the death penalty is barbarous and pointless as it has never been proven to deter serious crimes. Its adviser, N Surendran, said the new government has shown that “it is a force for moral good, and an example for the region and the world.” 

Many Asian countries such as China and Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam still impose capital punishment.

Surendran urged the government to not forget the hundreds of Malaysians who are languishing on death row in Singapore and other countries, particularly for being drug mules.

“We call upon the government to vigorously speak up for our citizens facing death in distant shores. Having rejected the death penalty in this country, we now have the moral authority to fight for the lives of our citizens abroad,” he said in a statement.

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