We, the undersigned 79 groups and organisations, welcome Malaysia’s move towards the abolition of the mandatory death penalty for drug offences, and replacing it with jail terms.
Recently, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz stated that Malaysia is considering withdrawing the mandatory death sentence for drug offences and replacing it with jail terms (The Star, 21 October 2012, ‘Death penalty may be scrapped for drug offences’). He also said he would be moving the Malaysian Cabinet to defer the death sentences passed on 675 convicted drug traffickers in the country, while the government reviews the death penalty for drug offences (The Straits Times, 25 October 2012, ‘Death knell for death penalty in Malaysia?’)
This follows the statement in July 2012, when Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said that his Chambers was working towards proposing an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to give judges the discretion of not imposing death sentences on couriers (Malay Mail, 12 July 2012, ‘M’sia mulls scrapping death penalty for drug couriers’).
In its 2009 Universal Periodic Review report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Malaysia declared that it was proposing to amend “existing anti-drug trafficking legislation to reduce the maximum sentence to life imprisonment” from the currently practised mandatory death.
Most of the 675 persons on death row for drug trafficking today are “drug mules”, some of whom may have even been conned. Drug kingpins are rarely caught.
In Malaysia, persons caught with a certain weight of drugs are presumed to be drug traffickers, and the onerous burden of rebutting this presumption shifts to the accused person. This goes against the norm in the criminal justice system, where the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty is on the prosecution. There are also close to 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad, including in China and Singapore, and Malaysia’s plea for clemency is inconsistent if it retains the death penalty.
In March 2012, it was also revealed in Parliament by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein that the mandatory death penalty has been shown to have failed to act as a deterrent. Police statistics for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase. In 2009, there were 2955 arrested under this section. In 2010, 3700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, there were 3845 arrested.(Free Malaysia Today, 19 March 2012, ‘Death penalty not deterring drug trade’).
69 percent (or 479) of the 696 waiting for execution of their death sentences in Malaysian prisons as on 22 February 2011, were for drug offences. Today, there are about 900 on death row.
No legal system in the world is foolproof or error-free. There have been many examples of cases of miscarriage of justice, where innocent persons have been incarcerated for many years or even sentenced to death. The opportunity to right a wrong is, however, not available since death is irreversible.
Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) has also called on Malaysia to join the other 140 UN member states to completely abolish the death penalty. The United Nations General Assembly has also adopted Resolutions in 2007, 2008 and 2010 calling for a moratorium on executions, with a view to eventually abolishing the death penalty.
Malaysia has begun commuting death sentence, whereby five Filipinos on death row had their sentenced commuted to prison terms earlier this year.
We call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition and for the commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row;
We also call on Malaysia to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
For and on behalf of the 79 groups/organisations listed below
- Aliran (Aliran Kesedaran Negara), Malaysia
- Aksi – For Gender, Social And Ecological Justice, Indonesia.
- Amnesty International Malaysia
- Amnesty International Philippines
- Amnesty International Thailand
- Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN)
- Advocacy and Policy Institute (API), Cambodia
- Arus Pelangi, Indonesia
- Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Thailand
- Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP)
- Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)
- Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)
- Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS)
- Catholic Lawyers Society, Malaysia
- Center for Human Rights Law Studies (HRLS), Faculty of Law, Airlangga University, Surabaya
- Center for Human Rights of Islamic University of Indonesia
- Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers(CIMW)
- Civil Rights Committee KLSCAH (KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall), Malaysia
- Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysia
- Community Action Network (CAN), Malaysia
- FORLITAN (Forum Perlindungan Pertanahan), Indonesia
- Foundation for Women
- Garment and Allied Workers Union, India
- Housing Rights Task Force, Cambodia
- Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
- Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) Indonesia
- IMPARSIAL – The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor
- IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh
- Indonesian Coalition for Drug Policy Reform (ICDPR)
- Indonesia for Humans
- Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta)
- Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia
- Kesatuan Pekerja Pekerja Polyplastics Asia Pacific (KPPAP), Malaysia
- KIARA (The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice) / Indonesia
- Knights for Peace International
- Lawyers for Liberty, Malaysia
- LSPP (Institute For Press And Devolepment) Indonesia
- MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
- Malaysians for Beng Hock
- Migrant CARE -Indonesia
- Migrant CARE – Malaysia
- Migrante International
- NAMM (Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia)
- National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) Malaysia
- Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)
- People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), India
- PERGERAKAN INDONESIA
- Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
- Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia
- Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Malaysia
- PINAY (The Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec), Canada
- Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Komas), Malaysia
- Save Vui Kong Campaign, Malaysia
- Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia [SABM]
- Sedane Labour Resouce Centre/Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane (LIPS), Indonesia
- Seksualiti Merdeka, Malaysia
- Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)
- Solidaritas Perempuan – Indonesia
- SUARAM, Malaysia
- Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia (SBMI)
- Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE)
- Tenaganita, Malaysia
- Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR)
- Think Centre, Singapore
- Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam
- Vietnam Committee on Human Rights
- WAC (Workers Assistance Center), Philippines
- We believe in Second Chances, Singapore
- WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)
- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
- Woman Health Philippines
- Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI), Malaysia
- Yayasan Lintas Nusa – Batam, Indonesia
- Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Cambodia
- Free Legal Assistance Group, National Capital Region, Philippines(FLAG)
- Hong Kong Joint Committee for the Abolition of the Death Penalty
- Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia
- Women’s Centre for Change, Malaysia
- Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility(MPSR)