Ensure Terengganu caning is the last, human rights watchdog urges Putrajaya

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Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said Malaysia should realise that caning is torture and nobody should a victim for any reason, and certainly ‘not for loving another adult of the same gender’. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― International watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) today urged the federal government to ensure that the public caning of two women accused of lesbian sex in Terengganu is the last to be carried out in the country.

In a statement, its deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said Malaysia should realise that caning is torture and nobody should a victim for any reason, and certainly “not for loving another adult of the same gender”.

“By publicly caning these two women, Terengganu officials committed an outrageous human rights violation that tarnishes the reputation of Malaysia as a rights respecting nation.

“The federal government should take steps now to ensure this is absolutely the last time a person is caned in Malaysia for consensual sexual relations with another adult,” Robertson said.

Yesterday, two women found guilty for attempting to have lesbian sex were caned six times at the Terengganu Shariah Court before a group of 100 people.

The punishment received worldwide condemnation, with actor Dirk Blocker in popular US sitcom Brooklyn Nine-Nine calling for a boycott of made-in Malaysia products as a sign of protest.

Federal minister in charge of religious affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa also said public presence during the sentencing should be reviewed.

Shariah laws are under the purview of the state, and not the federal government.

The federal Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 allows Shariah courts to punish by whipping up to six strokes, although Islamist party PAS that governs Terengganu has previously sought to amend this restriction.

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