Spare Rames Batumalai, Suthar Batumalai from death penalty, urges Bar

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Graphic: amnestyusa.org

The Malaysian Bar has been informed that the execution of brothers Rames Batumalai, 44, and Suthar Batumalai, 39, which had been scheduled to take place at Kajang Prison on 24 February 2017 and was then stayed at the eleventh hour, is now to proceed.

The brothers were sentenced to the mandatory death penalty under Section 302 of the Penal Code in April 2010 after they were found guilty of murder. We do not wish to comment on the merits of the case against them, nor do we condone or excuse the crime for which they were convicted.

The Malaysian Bar abhors and condemns the death penalty, in particular the mandatory death penalty. Sentences imposed on offenders must be proportionate to the gravity of offences committed, for the punishment to be just and effective.

However, it is never acceptable for the state to take a life for a life. The act of repaying one act of inhumanity with another is primitive and barbaric.

We are informed that the lawyers for the brothers are currently exploring a further or a new avenue to support their petition for clemency. Sufficient time and opportunity must be given for them to exhaust these fresh grounds before any sentence is meted out. The brothers must not be denied due process, and the execution of the death penalty must never be rushed or expedited.

The Malaysian Bar urges the government to allow the clemency proceedings to be completed and to commute the sentences of death by hanging, to life imprisonment.

Further, we repeat our call to the government to declare and implement an immediate moratorium on any and all executions, pending the outcome of the government’s reported ongoing review of the death penalty.

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Steven Thiru is president of the Malaysian Bar.
24 February 2017

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