UN Human Rights Office condemns secretive executions of two brothers in Malaysia

Graphic: amnestyusa.org

The UN Human Rights Office for South East Asia has condemned the executions of Malaysian brothers Suthar Batumalai and B Rames Batumalai, expressing concerns that the judicial procedures in their case did not fulfil the most stringent guarantees of fair trial and due process.

The two brothers, who were convicted of murder in 2010, were hanged yesterday (16 March 2017), despite the submission of a clemency petition last month containing new evidence in the case. The men were granted a temporary stay of execution as a result of the petition.

“We are gravely concerned that executions of Suthar and B Rames Batumalai went ahead, despite the pending decision by the Pardons Board on their clemency petition and the allegations that their trial did not meet international standards,” said Laurent Meillan, acting regional representative of the UN Human Rights Office for South East Asia.

“According to international safeguards, capital punishment shall not be carried out pending any appeal or other recourse procedure or other proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the sentence.”

Prison authorities informed the Batumalai family on 13 March 2017 that the men would be executed on Friday, 17 March and advised them to pay them a final visit. For unknown reasons, the family was informed yesterday that the executions would be carried out yesterday (16 March) morning.

“We are particularly disturbed that these executions were both rushed and secretive and that very little notice was given to the family,” said Meillan. “It is simply cruel and inhumane to not give them or their family adequate notice.”

The UN Human Rights Office has called on global leaders to abolish the death penalty and advance a more progressive judicial agenda in their respective states.

More than 160 member states of the United Nations with a variety of legal systems, traditions, cultures and religious backgrounds, have either abolished the death penalty or do not practise it. In South East Asia, only Cambodia, Timor-Leste and the Philippines have fully abolished the death penalty.

The Regional Office repeats its call for the Malaysian government to take steps to establish a moratorium on the death penalty as part of a process toward the full abolishment of capital punishment.

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