Malaysian Bar renews call to abolish death penalty

Malaysian Bar president Salim Bashir called for the establishment of a Law Reform Commission to review outdated laws and sentencing procedures. (AFP pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has renewed its call to abolish the death penalty in Malaysia, stating there is no “empirical evidence” to confirm that the death penalty is a deterrent to crimes.

It also urged Putrajaya to establish a Law Reform Commission to review outdated laws and sentencing procedures.

Salim Bashir, president of the Malaysian Bar, said despite the existence of capital punishment, drug-related offences were still being reported.

He said the Bar had been persistent in calling for abolition of the death penalty for the past 30 years and will continue to be a vocal opponent.

Salim Bashir.

Today is the 18th World Day Against the Death Penalty.

In December 2018, Salim said Malaysia cast its first vote and joined a record number of United Nations member states in favour of the UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on executions, with a view to abolish the death penalty.

He urged the government to continue its support to abolish the death penalty when the time comes for a vote again at a later date.

“It is of utmost importance that Malaysia maintains its global reputation and credibility by reaffirming and fulfilling its international commitments and pledges,” he added.

The Malaysian Bar has also urged Putrajaya to make public the recommendations of the Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty, which was established in September 2019 to study the abolition of capital punishment and to consider meting out alternative sentences.

“We renew our recommendation for the establishment of a Law Reform Commission to review outdated laws and sentencing procedures to bring our country in line with international human rights standards,” he added.

The bill to abolish the mandatory death penalty for 11 serious offences was expected to be tabled at the March parliamentary sitting this year.

However, the change in government delayed tabling of the bill.