On 25 July 2017, parliamentarians, representatives from civil society and the diplomatic community met in the Parliament of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur, to discuss the abolition of the death penalty in the region. This roundtable was convened by Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA), in the framework of its partnership with Ensemble contre la peine de mort (ECPM), the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network
(ADPAN) and the Civil Rights Committee of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH),
The roundtable was hosted by Honourable Kula Segaran, Secretary of PGA’s National Group in Malaysia and Member of PGA’s Executive Committee.
Participants first discussed the situation of the death penalty in Malaysia, with opening statements from Mr. Raphaël Chenuil-Hazan, Executive Director of ECPM, H.E. Dr. Angela Macdonald, Acting Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia, and H.E. Mrs. Maria Castillo Fernandez, Ambassador & Head of the European Union Delegation to Malaysia, who all vowed to support Malaysian parliamentarians and authorities in their efforts to reduce the scope of the capital punishment. Most significantly, Hon. Azalina Othman Said, Minister of Law, described Malaysia’s efforts to reduce the use of death penalty and announced that a bill abolishing the mandatory aspect of capital punishment for drug-related crimes would soon be presented to the Cabinet, before being put to vote in Parliament.
After substantive contributions from Hon. Kula Segaran, Mr. Charles Hector Fernandez, Coordinator of MADPET, Hon. Liew Ching Tong, PGA Member, and Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), all attendants participated in a fruitful debate where they exchanged views on how to best promote the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.
The roundtable also gave the participants an overview of the situation of the death penalty in other Asian countries, thanks to the very detailed presentations from Ms. Ngeow Chow Ying, Member of the Executive Committee of ADPAN, Hon. Eva Sundari, Indonesian MP and PGA Member, Mr. Julian McMahon Barrister and Member of Reprieve Australia’s Board, and Mrs. Zainab Malik, Head of Advocacy at Justice Project Pakistan. Chaired by Hon. Thomas Su Keong Siong, Treasurer of PGA’s National group in Malaysia, and Hon. Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, PGA Member, this session allowed all participants to identify similitudes and synergies between efforts led by parliamentarians in Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan and other countries in the region.
All participants voiced their deep concerns at the increasing number of executions in Indonesia and Pakistan and at the multiplication of extrajudicial killing in the Philippines. They vowed to tackle the issue of the death penalty in their respective countries and on the regional level.
The participants came out with the following Action Plan.
Recalling the international human rights standards and instruments that guarantee the right to life and protect the human dignity of death row inmates, as well as the General Assembly of the United Nations’ resolution on the moratorium on the use of the death penalty,
Considering how the death penalty is currently used in Malaysia and in the region, despite the lack of evidence of its deterrent effect,
Acknowledging the crucial role that legislators hold to promote the abolition of the death penalty, to reduce and restrict its use and to further the development of the Rule of Law through legislative initiatives and by leading public opinion,
We, the participants of the Parliamentary Roundtable on the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia and in Asia, commit to:
1. Continue to strive to inform our constituents and others about the death penalty and its related issues, to grow a consensus in favour of its abolition, including through public statements;
2. Create within our respective parliaments a multi-partisan group of parliamentarians dedicated to further the abolitionist cause, through engagement with other stakeholders and in particular with PGA, ECPM and ADPAN;
3. Engage with families affected by the death penalty, both the relatives of victims and of accused, and give them a role to play in our advocacy efforts;
4. Engage with student bodies to promote the abolition of the death penalty;
5. Make clear, whenever the opportunity arises, that under international law the death penalty should only be applied to “the most serious crimes” and that drug-related crimes do not meet this threshold;
6. Make clear, whenever the opportunity arises, that under international law the death penalty should not be made mandatory for any category of crimes, as it negates the rights of the accused to benefit from a sentence reflecting the circumstances of the crime;
7. Request from our respective governments that a review of existing death row cases be conducted to
assess inter alia the impact of the mandatory death penalty and the background of those affected;
8. Raise the issue, whenever the opportunity arises, of the discriminatory aspect of the death penalty, in particular against poverty-stricken communities, trafficked individuals, the mentally ill, juveniles, and minorities;
9. Keep the abolition of the death penalty at the forefront of legislative discussions, and especially when discussing matters of criminal justice and criminal procedure, to ensure that the capital punishment should only be used at the outcome of a fair and transparent trial;
10. Urge our respective governments, both federal and state, and all bodies that exercise clemency powers to commute death sentences;
11. Demand from our respective governments that no execution be carried out in secret or hastily, that an adequate notice be given to the family before execution, and that statistics are strictly kept and made public;
12. Develop strategies to reduce the scope of the death penalty in our respective countries, especially by introducing legislation reducing the number of capital offences;
13. Request a full moratorium on the use of the death penalty and that a national Commission of Inquiry on the efficiency of the capital punishment be created and its results published;
14. Ensure that our governments fully respect the Convention on the rights of child (CRC) and the
Convention on the elimination of all forms of discriminations against women (CEDAW);
15. Express our concerns at the dramatic increase of executions in Indonesia;
16. Express our concerns at the dramatic increase of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines;
17. Encourage and support our Filipino colleagues in ensuring that the death penalty not be reintroduced in the Philippines;
18. Express our concerns at the dramatic increase of executions in Pakistan;
19. Urge our respective governments to ratify the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR-OP2) aiming at the abolition of the death penalty;
20. Urge our respective governments to make a more forceful representation to countries where their
citizens are sentenced to death and that the latter be ensured legal representation under the Vienna
21. Bring issues related to the death penalty at the forefront of regional discussions, including at the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly, to develop a better cooperation among MPs throughout the region and promote abolition;
22. Call upon all governments to abolish the death penalty; and more specifically:
23. Continue to request from the government that the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 be reviewed to abolish the mandatory aspect of the death penalty as announced by Min. Azalina Othman Said on 21 February 2016 and again during this very roundtable on 25 July 2017;
24. Urge the government of Malaysia to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR);
25. Use all legislative powers at our disposal, including that of amendments, to ensure that the new Criminal Code and the Law on Counter-Terrorism reduce the scope of the death penalty;
26. Promote a revision of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 1997 to ensure that defendants accused of ordinary crimes not be tried before Anti-Terrorism Courts; and
27. Demand that torture be expressly prohibited in Pakistani criminal law, that penalties and remedies be defined, and that a National Prevention Institution be created.
“As parliamentarians, we have a role to play to go beyond vengeance” declared Hon. Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, PGA Member.
Parliamentarians for Global Action(PGA) Website
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** 3 ADPAN Executive Committee Members made presentations at this event.