Malaysia scraps mandatory death penalty

The death penalty will still exist for serious crimes, but judges will have the option to impose alternative punishments such as lengthy prison sentences or whipping.

Malaysia scraps mandatory death penalty
Malaysia scraps mandatory death penalty


dLawmakers in Malaysia voted to scrap the country's mandatory death penalty and natural-life prison sentences on Monday.

Previously, some offenses such as murder and drug trafficking came with automatic death sentences, meaning judges had no leeway.

Under the new provisions, judges will have the option to impose alternative punishments like 30- to 40-year prison sentences or whipping.

"The death penalty has not brought the results it was intended to bring," Deputy Law Minister Ramkarpal Singh said during a parliamentary debate.

More than 1,300 people facing the death penalty or imprisonment for natural life will be able to seek a sentencing review under the new rules.

Rights groups welcome 'important step'

Although the reforms stopped short of ending capital punishment entirely, Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network executive coordinator Dobby Chew said the new policy was a "good way forward."

"For the most part, we are on the right track for Malaysia — it's a reform that has been a long time coming," he said.

Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson also called the move an "important step forward for Malaysia."

"This is an important breakthrough that will cause some serious conversations in the halls of upcoming ASEAN meetings," he told the AFP news agency.

"Malaysia should show regional leadership by encouraging other governments in ASEAN to re-think their continued use of the death penalty, starting with Singapore which has recently gone on a post-COVID execution spree."

zc/rc (Reuters, AFP)

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