Media statements issued never do get media coverage, and if it does it often does not report all that is stated. Given the fact, there seem to be no real documentation of all these civil society voices, this Blog has been started hoping to capture and preserve the voices of civil society for all. Appreciate it if you could forward me ( statements that have not been picked up by this Blog.

Sunday, August 1, 2010




MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is appalled by the proposal by Karpal Singh, the chairperson of the Democratic Action Party(DAP) calling for the amendment of the Penal Code to provide for death penalty for child rapists (Malaysiakini, 31/7/2010, Karpal proposes death penalty for child rapists).

Human rights activist the world over and all justice loving people have called for the abolition of the death penalty.

The Malaysian Bar, a body of more than 12,000 Malaysian lawyers, since March 2006, has adopted the position for the abolition of the death Penalty. They have been specifically calling for (1) Abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia; (2) An immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition; (3) Commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row; and (4) Ratification by Malaysia of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

It must also be pointed out that a television poll done by RTM 2 during the Hello on Two programme on 7/5/2006 showed that 64% of Malaysians are for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia. This program has an estimated audience of 80,000. It is thus important that members of Parliament, the representatives of the people respond to the aspirations of Malaysians and remove the death penalty from the laws of Malaysia.

Further, let us also note that the global trend is for the abolition of the death penalty and more than two-thirds of the countries of the world have already abolished the death penalty in law or in practice.

Resolution 2005/59 of the United Nations Human Rights Commission calls specifically for the total abolition of the death penalty, and in the mean time for an immediate moratorium on all executions. This Resolution received explicit support by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 62/149 passed on 18/12/2007, where 104 countries voted in favour, 54 against and 29 abstained. On 18/12/2008, the United Nations General Assembly passed another Resolution 63/168 which reaffirmed Resolution 62/149 and specifically welcomed ‘the decisions taken by a growing number of States to apply a moratorium on executions and the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty…’. Resolution 62/149 received even more support with 106 voting in favour, 46 against and 34 abstained.

Even in the United States in America, there is a trend towards abolition of the death penalty where more and more States have moved towards abolition. US also now have the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act of 2009 which puts an immediate halt to federal executions and forbid the use of the death penalty as a sentence for violations of federal law.

One of the main arguments by death penalty that is used by governments, including the Malaysian government, to justify the death penalty is that it deters serious crimes. This was what Datuk M. Kayveas, a Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department told Parliament.(Bernama, 28/6/2006) This is baseless and cannot be justified by any facts or statistical proof. 

On the other hand, there are studies conducted throughout the world over the past seventy years using various different methodological approaches that have failed to find convincing evidence that capital punishment is a more effective deterrent of crime than long-term imprisonment. 

Studies conducted in Australia show that abolition of the death penalty had no effect on the homicide rate and in Canada there in fact was a sharp decline in the homicide rate after abolition;

In the United States over the past twenty years, states with the death penalty in general have had a higher homicide rate than states without the death penalty;

The United Nations itself noted in 1988, 1996, and 2002, "research has failed to provide scientific proof that executions have a greater deterrent effect than life imprisonment. Such proof is unlikely to be forthcoming. The evidence as a whole gives no positive support to the deterrent hypothesis."

Further, there is always the risk that perpetrators of crimes that carry the death penalty would be more inclined to kill victims and even witnesses to avoid death.

Given the state of the Malaysian criminal justice system, including the judiciary, and the possibility of miscarriages of justice, we should abolish the death penalty to prevent even slightest possibility that an innocent person may be killed by the State.

DAP, together with the Parti Keadilan Rakyat(PKR) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia(PAS) form the Opposition Coalition known as Pakatan Rakyat. In the light of Karpal’s statement, it becomes important now, for these political parties to re-state their position on the death penalty.

As a civilized nation, Malaysia must abolish the death penalty, and as such it is hoped that Karpal Singh immediately withdraws his proposal to amend the Penal Code to impose the sentence of death on convicted child rapist.

Noting that Article 43 of the Federal Constitution, states that “…Ruler or Yang di- Pertua Negeri of a State has power to grant pardons, reprieves and respites in respect of all other offences committed in his State…”, maybe the Pakatan Rakyat state governments should take the first step by immediately commuting all death sentences to prison terms, and in the interim a moratorium on all executions in their States.

MADPET reiterates its call for:-

(1)    An abolition of the death penalty;

(2)    A moratorium on all executions pending abolition; and

(3)    That all death sentences be commuted to prison terms.

Charles Hector

for  Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)

1 August 2010

(For further information, contact Charles Hector (019-2371 100, )

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