Malaysia to Abolish Death Penalty


“All death penalty will be abolished. Full stop,” Law Minister Liew Vui Keong announced last week.

Mr. Keong said that the Cabinet had agreed to abolish the death penalty and amendments to laws with capital punishment would be presented to Parliament in the coming weeks.

About 1200 people, many of them sentenced for drug offenses, are on death row in Malaysia, where the death penalty is mandatory for several crimes, including murder, drug trafficking, and treason.

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s new government imposed a moratorium on executions in July, after an election upset on May 9 brought the country’s first change of government since independence from Britain in 1957. The new government pledged to eradicate corruption and bolster human rights.

Communications Minister Gobind Singh Deo told The Associated Press, “This is part of our election pledge and also in line with the move away from capital punishment in the rest of the world.”

Amnesty International called the decision to end capital punishment “a major step forward for all those who have campaigned for an end to the death penalty in Malaysia.” Malaysia is set to join more than two thirds of the countries in the world that have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

Malaysian human rights group Lawyers for Liberty praised the decision. 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.”