Malaysia Abolish Death Sentences As Capital Punishment

Written by on April 3, 2023

Malaysia’s parliament on Monday voted to end the country’s far-reaching mandatory death sentences, potentially sparing more than 1,300 prisoners on death row.

The country will embark to ratify legal to trim the number of offenses punishable by death and abolish natural-life prison sentences, a move cautiously welcomed by rights groups, Reuters said.

Malaysia has had a cessation of executions since 2018 when it first promised to abolish capital punishment entirely.

The government, however, faced political pressure from some parties and made a reversal on the pledge a year later, saying it would retain the death penalty but allow courts to replace it with other punishments at their preference.

Under the amendments passed, alternatives to the death penalty include whipping and imprisonment of between 30 to 40 years. The new jail term will replace all previous provisions that call for imprisonment for the duration of the offender’s natural life.

Life imprisonment sentences, defined by Malaysian law as a fixed term of 30 years, will be retained.

According to Reuters, capital punishment will also be removed as an option for some serious crimes that do not cause death, such as discharging and trafficking of a firearm and kidnapping.

Malaysia’s Deputy Law Minister Ramkarpal Singh said capital punishment was an irreversible sentence and had been an ineffective deterrent

The death penalty has not brought about the results it was intended to bring, he said in wrapping up parliamentary debates on the measures.

The amendments passed to apply to 34 offences currently punishable by death, including murder and drug trafficking. Eleven of those carry it as a mandatory punishment.

More than 1,300 people facing the death penalty or imprisonment for natural life – including those who have exhausted all other legal appeals – can seek a sentencing review under the new rules.

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