Who executes the most? Malaysia ranks 10th globally in death penalty

By Tarrence Tan
Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu says the number of executions in Malaysia has considerably increased from the previous years. — File pic

PETALING JAYA, April 11 ― Malaysia was placed 10th among the world’s top executioners after carrying out nine death sentences last year, human rights watchdog Amnesty International Malaysia (AI-M) said in its report.

AI-M Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said the number of executions in Malaysia has also considerably increased from the previous years, according to the Death Sentences and Executions Report 2016 launched today.

“The Home Ministry in October last year had informed the Parliament that Malaysia had executed six people in 2014, one in 2015 and nine last year.

“The disclosure was the first time executions have been disaggregated by year in recent memory and the revelation provided an insight into the magnitude and true extent of Malaysia's use of the death penalty,” she told reporters here.

According to the report, 23 countries were known to have carried out executions. China lead the list of top executioners, followed by Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Pakistan.

However, she praised Malaysia for being "slightly more" transparent with death penalty data, after urging Putrajaya to do so over the years.

“The October announcement proved that Malaysia has been executing more than we were previously aware of. The government should continue to make public information on the death penalty while it is still in use,” she said.

In the previous parliamentary session, minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said revealed that the government had agreed to review Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and allow courts to decide on the penalty for drug offences.

Currently, the law only provides for one sentence for those convicted of drug-related offences — death.

While the government has agreed to review drug laws in the country, it should also explore its options in entirely abolishing the death penalty, Shamini said.

“On March 15, the hurried double executions of brothers Rames and Suthar Batumalai while clemency application was still pending is symbolic of the lack of transparency that surrounds executions in Malaysia.

“It is a perfect example of why the death penalty must be abolished in totality. The government must go further and immediately establish a moratorium on all executions as first steps towards full abolition of the death penalty.”

The report also revealed that executions at the global level had decreased by 37 per cent from a high of 1,634 in 2015. On the other hand, new death sentences had increased in 2016 to 3,117 from 1,998 in 2015.