Malaysian Bar resolves to demand end to death penalty now

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
File picture of Malaysian Bar president George Varughese. The Malaysian Bar passed a resolution calling for the death penalty to be abolished including for drug trafficking offences. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — Lawyers voted to pass a resolution calling for the death penalty to be abolished including for drug trafficking offences.

The Malaysian Bar also passed a resolution during its 72nd annual general assembly calling for the immediate implementation of the Dangerous Drugs Act amendment that gives judges discretionary power to mete out sentences other than the death penalty.

“The Malaysian Bar opposes the death penalty because it takes the view that life is sacred, and every person has an inherent right to life,” read the resolution.

“The right to life is a fundamental right that is absolute, inalienable and universal, and must be held inviolate, irrespective of the crime committed by the accused person,” it added.

Putrajaya is currently considering removing the death penalty, including for drug offences.

But in its resolution, the Malaysian Bar said it was disappointed by the delay in the implementation to the DDA amendments.

It noted that the delay has caused the execution of eight drug-related convicts.

It is now calling for the Malaysian government to “swiftly abolish the death penalty for all crimes”.

“Stop all further executions, undertake a review of all cases of those sentenced to death prior to the coming into force of legislation removing the death penalty as a punishment.

The resolution also wants the government to commute or recommend the commutation of each such death sentence to one term of imprisonment to commensurate with the circumstances of individual cases.

The Malaysian Bar said it would continue to take any necessary action, including engaging and collaborating with stakeholders in pursuance to achieving the resolution.