On 16 December 2020, Malaysia voted in support of a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
The General Assembly at the 46th meeting of the 75th session adopted the resolution entitled “Moratorium on the use of the death penalty” with 123 votes in favour to 38 against, with 24 abstentions.
The assembly also “called on States to respect international standards that provide safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty, in particular the minimum standards, as set out in the annex to Economic and Social Council resolution 1984/50 of 25 May 1984. Calling on States to comply with their obligations under article 36 of the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, particularly the right to receive information on consular assistance, it called on States that have not yet done so to consider acceding to or ratifying the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights” (Meeting coverage of the assembly).
The 2020 resolution with 123 votes in favour demonstrates a growing trend towards abolition of the death penalty. In 2018, a similar resolution only had 121 votes in favour, which also included Malaysia.
In 2007, there were 104. In 2008, it was 106. In 2010, it was 108. In 2012, it jumped to 111, and in 2016, it was 117. Malaysia voted in favour in 2018 and now again in 2020.
On the same day, the assembly also adopted a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions by a vote of 132 in favour to none against, with 53 abstentions. The assembly “demanded that States ensure the practice of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions is brought to an end”.
Malaysia should have already taken the first step towards the abolition of the mandatory death penalty, which unfortunately has been delayed by Covid and changes in government.
Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) urges Malaysia to expedite the abolition of the mandatory death penalty, which will then rightfully return the power to the courts to determine the most appropriate sentence based on the facts and circumstances of each case. A mandatory penalty was an act by Parliament that removed a role that should have been left with the judiciary in a democracy.
Madpet also calls on Malaysia, that as the next step, to immediately abolish the death penalty from all offences that did not result in any death of a victim.
Madpet reiterates its call for the total abolition of the death penalty and for the commutation of all death sentences imposed on those now on death row, ie awaiting execution.
Madpet also calls for the criminalisation of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, and for the abolition of detention without trial laws. No one should be detained, restricted or punished with being accorded the right to a fair trial.
Charles Hector issued this statement on behalf of Madpet