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SUHAKAM calls for end to death penalty

Graphic: Man sitting in prison cell

SUHAKAM's Chairperson urged the government to abolish the death penalty at the release of the organisation’s 2014 Annual Report.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has urged the government to abolish the death penalty, the New Straits Times reported.

"We want to encourage Malaysia to join other countries which have outlawed the mandatory death penalty," said SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Hasmy Agam at the release of the organisation's 2014 Annual Report.

"The Commission has actively asked for discretionary powers to be returned to the judges in sentencing those convicted for certain drug offences. Under the current laws, the death penalty is mandatory for serious drug offences," he said.

Abolishing the death penalty was a recommendation made to the Malaysian government in the 2013 Universal Periodic Review, undertaken by the UN Human Rights Council.

SUHAKAM's 2014 Annual Report highlighted a number of other key human rights issues.

It welcomed the government's decision to develop the country's first ever National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP) but cautioned that the five core issues proposed in the NHRAP must be realistic, practical and achievable by the target date.

Drawing on statistics provided by the Royal Malaysia Police, SUHAKAM said a total of 242 deaths in police lock-ups had been recorded between 2000 and February 2014.

SUHAKAM has commenced a study into the issue, which is due to be completed in 2015.

The Human Rights Commission also recommended alternatives to detention for refugee and asylum-seeker children held in immigration detention centres. It said these children, who were sometimes unaccompanied, face an increased risk of abuse when detained with adults.

In addition, SUHAKAM recommended that the "repressive and obsolete" Sedition Act of 1948 be repealed, as well as greater enforcement of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM).

SUHAKAM also expressed regret that the government did not support its six key recommendations on indigenous people's rights, particularly in relation to their land rights.

Date 15: April 2015

Source: New Straits Times

Image credits

  1. Man sitting in prison cell - APF/Michael Power