MALAYSIA – ADPAN joins 78 Groups calling for Abolition

Media Statement


79 Groups Call for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia

We, the undersigned 79 groups and organisations welcome Malaysia’s move towards the abolition of the mandatory death penalty for drug offences, and replacing it with jail terms.

Recently, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz stated that Malaysia is considering withdrawing the mandatory death sentence for drug offences and replacing it with jail terms.(Star,21/10/2012, Death penalty may be scrapped for drug offences). He also said he will be moving the Malaysian Cabinet to defer the death sentences passed on 675 convicted drug traffickers in the country, while the government reviews the death penalty for drug offences. (The Straits Times, 25/10/2012, Death knell for death penalty in Malaysia?) This follows the statement in July 2012, when Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said that his Chambers was working towards proposing an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to give judges the discretion of not imposing death sentences on couriers(Malay Mail, 12/7/2012, M’sia mulls scrapping death penalty for drug couriers). In its 2009 Universal Periodic Review report to the United Nations Human Rights Council, Malaysia also did declare that it was proposing to amend “existing anti-drug trafficking legislation to reduce the maximum sentence to life imprisonment” from the currently practised mandatory death.

Most of the 675 persons on death row for drug trafficking today are “drug mules”, some of whom may have even been conned. Drug kingpins are rarely caught. In Malaysia, persons caught with a certain weight of drugs are presumed to be drug traffickers, and the onerous burden of rebutting this presumption shifts to the accused person. This goes against the norm in the criminal justice system, where the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a person is guilty is on the prosecution. There are also close to 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad, including in China and Singapore, and Malaysia’s plea for clemency is inconsistent if it retains the death penalty.

In March 2012, it was also revealed in Parliament by Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein that the mandatory death penalty has been shown to have failed to act as a deterrent. Police statistics for the arrests of drug dealers under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries the mandatory death penalty, for the past three years (2009 to 2011) have shown an increase. In 2009, there were 2,955 arrested under this section. In 2010, 3,700 people were arrested, whilst in 2011, there were 3,845 arrested.(Free Malaysia Today News, 19/3/2012, Death penalty not deterring drug trade)

69%(or 479) of the 696 waiting for execution of their death sentences in Malaysian prisons as on Feb 22, 2011, were for drug offences. Today, there are about 900 on death row.

No legal system in the world is foolproof or error-free. There have been many examples of cases of miscarriage of justice, where innocent persons have been incarcerated for many years, or even sentenced to death. The opportunity to right a wrong is, however, not available since death is irreversible.

SUHAKAM (Malaysian Human Rights Commission) has also called on Malaysia to join the other 140 UN member states to completely abolish the death penalty. The United Nations General Assembly have also adopted Resolutions in 2007, 2008 and 2010 calling for a moratorium on executions, with a view to eventually abolishing the death penalty.

Malaysia has begun commuting death sentence, whereby 5 Filipinos on death row had their sentenced commuted to prison terms earlier this year.

We call for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition and for the commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row;

We also call on Malaysia to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of the 79 groups/organisations listed below

ALIRAN (Aliran Kesedaran Negara), Malaysia

Aksi – For Gender, Social And Ecological Justice, Indonesia.

Amnesty International Malaysia

Amnesty International Philippines

Amnesty International Thailand

Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN)

Advocacy and Policy Institute (API), Cambodia

Arus Pelangi, Indonesia

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact, Thailand

Cambodian Defenders Project (CDP)

Cambodian Human Rights Action Committee (CHRAC)

Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC)

Cambodian Volunteers for Society (CVS)

Catholic Lawyers Society, Malaysia

Center for Human Rights Law Studies (HRLS), Faculty of Law, Airlangga University, Surabaya

Center for Human Rights of Islamic University of Indonesia

Center for Indonesian Migrant Workers(CIMW)

Civil Rights Committee KLSCAH (KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall), Malaysia

Civil Society Committee of LLG Cultural Development Centre, Malaysia

Community Action Network (CAN), Malaysia

FORLITAN (Forum Perlindungan Pertanahan), Indonesia

Foundation for Women

Garment and Allied Workers Union, India

Housing Rights Task Force, Cambodia

Human Rights Ambassador for

Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) Indonesia

IMPARSIAL – The Indonesian Human Rights Monitor

IMA Research Foundation, Bangladesh

Indonesian Coalition for Drug Policy Reform (ICDPR)

Indonesia for Humans

Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH Jakarta)

Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT), Malaysia

Kesatuan Pekerja Pekerja Polyplastics Asia Pacific (KPPAP), Malaysia

KIARA (The People’s Coalition for Fisheries Justice) / Indonesia

Knights for Peace International

Lawyers for Liberty, Malaysia

LSPP (Institute For Press And Devolepment) Indonesia

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Malaysians for Beng Hock

Migrant CARE -Indonesia

Migrant CARE – Malaysia

Migrante International

NAMM (Network of Action for Migrants in Malaysia)

National League for Democracy (Liberated Area) Malaysia

Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), India


Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS), Malaysia

Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS), Malaysia

PINAY (The Filipino Women’s Organization in Quebec), Canada

Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Komas), Malaysia

Save Vui Kong Campaign, Malaysia

Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia [SABM]

Sedane Labour Resouce Centre/Lembaga Informasi Perburuhan Sedane (LIPS), Indonesia

Seksualiti Merdeka, Malaysia

Singapore Anti Death Penalty Campaign (SADPC)

Solidaritas Perempuan – Indonesia

SUARAM, Malaysia

Serikat Buruh Migran Indonesia (SBMI)

Sibuyan Island Sentinels League for Environment Inc. (Sibuyan ISLE)

Tenaganita, Malaysia

Thai Committee for Refugees Foundation (TCR)

Think Centre, Singapore

Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam

Vietnam Committee on Human Rights

WAC (Workers Assistance Center), Philippines

We believe in Second Chances, Singapore

WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)

Woman Health Philippines

Writers Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI), Malaysia

Yayasan Lintas Nusa – Batam, Indonesia

New Endorsers:

Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Cambodia

Free Legal Assistance Group, National Capital Region, Philippines(FLAG)

Hong Kong Joint Committee for the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO), Malaysia

Women’s Centre for Change, Malaysia

Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility(MPSR)

* This joint statement was also sent to the Prime Minister, de facto Law Minister and the Human Rights Commission, seeking also a response from them to the said statement. Any responses received shall be forwarded to all.

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