Death Penalty Worldwide

Malaysia

Last updated on January 3, 2013

General

Official Country Name

Malaysia. [1]

Geographical Region

Asia (South-eastern Asia). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Retentionist. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [4]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/malaysia/197485.htm, March 2, 2012.
[2] U.N., Composition of macro geographical (continental) regions, geographical sub-regions, and selected economic and other groupings, http://unstats.un.org/unsd/methods/m49/m49regin.htm, Sep. 20, 2011.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, p. 7, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, March 27, 2012.
[4] Criminal Procedure Code of Malaysia, art. 277, 1935, amended by Act 593 of 2006. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, p. 8, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, March 27, 2012.

Country Details

Language(s)

Bahasa Melayu. [1]

Population

28,300,000.   [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

At least 902. [3] According to Amnesty, as of October 2012, death row in Malaysia held a population of 900 prisoners. [4] Following that report’s publication, at least two prisoners were sentenced to death (a scrap metal dealer was sentenced to death on November 22, 2012 for drug trafficking, [5] and a Chinese national was sentenced to hang to death on December 1, 2012 for the murder of another Chinese national in Yishun). [6]

This number reflects a growing number of known death row inmates. As many as 300 individuals were held under sentence of death in January 2008. [7] Courts have handed down death sentences every year since then (22 in 2008, [8] 68 in 2009, [9] 114 in 2010 [10] and at least 108 in 2011 [11] ). Approximately 860 individuals were under sentence of death in March 2012. [12]

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2014 to date (last updated on December 12, 2014)

0. [13]

Executions in 2013

At least 2. [14]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

1 execution per 9,433,333 persons

Executions in 2012

0. [15]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

At least 1. [16] Because the government does not release data on its use of the death penalty, Amnesty International was unable to confirm the number of executions that had been carried out, but noted that there had been at least 1. [17]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

1 execution per 28,300,000 persons

Executions in 2010

At least 1. [18]

Executions in 2009

At least 1. [19]

Executions in 2008

At least 1. [20]

Executions in 2007

At least 1. [21]

Year of Last Known Execution

2013. [22]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/malaysia/197485.htm, March 2, 2012.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/outofdate/bgn/malaysia/197485.htm, March 2, 2012.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Malaysia Should Broaden its Proposal to Scrap the Death Penalty, ASA 28/003/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA28/003/2012/en, Oct. 24, 2012. The Straits Times, Yishun Triple Killerå to Hang, The Star, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/1/asia/12396413&sec=asia, Dec. 1, 2012. Rita Jong, Scrap Metal Dealer Sentenced to Death, New Straits Times, http://www.nst.com.my/latest/scrap-metal-dealer-sentenced-to-death-1.175161, Nov. 22, 2012.
[4] Amnesty Intl., Malaysia Should Broaden its Proposal to Scrap the Death Penalty, ASA 28/003/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ASA28/003/2012/en, Oct. 24, 2012.
[5] Rita Jong, Scrap Metal Dealer Sentenced to Death, New Straits Times, http://www.nst.com.my/latest/scrap-metal-dealer-sentenced-to-death-1.175161, Nov. 22, 2012.
[6] The Straits Times, Yishun Triple Killer to Hang, The Star, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/1/asia/12396413&sec=asia, Dec. 1, 2012.
[7] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, Mar. 30, 2010.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 23, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[9] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, pp. 6, 7, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[10] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, p. 18, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, March 27, 2012.
[12] Mark Warren, The Death Penalty Worldwide: Estimated Death Row Populations, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/global.htm, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
[13] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, p. 50, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, p. 18, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, March 27, 2012.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[18] Amnesty Intl. Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, ACT 50/001/2011, p. 5, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2011/en, March 28, 2011.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, pp. 6, 7, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[20] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, p. 23, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[21] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[22] Roger Hood, All Souls College, University of Oxford, e-mail to DPW, Malaysia DPW Doc. E-1, Sep. 25, 2013.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Murder. [1]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Malaysia has a felony murder rule: every participant in “dacoity,” a gang robbery involving at least five offenders, is death-eligible if one of the participants commits murder during the robbery. [2] In addition, bearing false witness, resulting in an innocent victim’s conviction and execution, is punishable by death if the witness knows the victim may be convicted of a capital crime as a result of his false testimony. [3] Assisted suicide of a child or insane person is punishable by death as a variety of murder. [4] Rape or attempted rape resulting in the victim’s death is punishable by death. [5]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Unlawfully possessing firearms or explosives in a designated security area; supplying, receiving, or preparing to supply or receive firearms in a designated security area; or consorting with individuals who perform such acts, is punishable by death. [6] Malaysia has amended its penal code to address and further define terrorist acts; [7] however, terrorist suspects are typically dealt with under the Internal Security Act and are simply detained without trial. [8]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
If a firearm is charged during robbery or extortion in an attempt to murder or cause harm, each of the offenders participating in the robbery or extortion is punishable by death. [9]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
If the abduction is carried out with the intent to commit murder, [10] or if the abducted person is held for ransom, [11] kidnapping is punishable by death. Kidnapping is also a capital crime if any of the kidnappers, during the offense, discharges a firearm in an attempt to murder or cause harm. [12]

Burglary Not Resulting in Death.
Discharge of a firearm in an attempt to murder or cause harm during a house-break or house-trespass, by any of the participating offenders, makes each offender death-eligible. [13]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death. [14]

Treason.
Waging war against Malaysia or offenses against the person of any Malaysian federal or federated head of state is punishable by death. [15]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Abetting mutiny, if the mutiny is carried out, is punishable by death. [16]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
- Resisting Arrest/ Escaping from jail: Discharging firearms in an attempt to murder or cause harm while resisting arrest or escaping lawful custody, by any of the offenders, makes each participating offender death-eligible. [17]

- Weapons Trafficking: Trafficking in firearms, or possessing more than two firearms illegally, is punishable by death. [18]

- Repeat Offender: Attempted murder, if harm actually results, is punishable by death if the offender was serving a sentence of 20 years or more at the time of the offense. [19]

Comments.
While Malaysia does permit the application of Shariah law in Islamic courts, only the High Court, which applies only the civil and criminal law of Malaysia, may try capital cases. [20]

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. [21]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Murder. [22]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Unlawfully possessing firearms or explosives in a designated security area; and supplying, receiving, or preparing to supply or receive firearms in a designated security area, are punished by death. [23] Malaysia has amended its penal code to address and further define terrorist acts; [24] however, terrorist suspects are typically dealt with under the Internal Security Act and are detained without trial. [25]

Robbery Not Resulting in Death.
If a firearm is charged in an attempt to murder or cause harm during a robbery or as part of extortion, the offender discharging the firearm is punished by death. Other participants must be punished by death if they cannot prove they took all reasonable measures to prevent the weapon from being discharged. [26]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
A kidnapper who discharges a firearm during a kidnapping in an attempt to murder or cause harm must be punished by death. Other participants must be punished by death if they cannot prove they took all reasonable measures to prevent the weapon from being discharged. [27]

Burglary Not Resulting in Death.
An offender who discharges a firearm in an attempt to murder or cause harm during a house-break or house-trespass must be punished by death. Other participants must be punished by death if they cannot prove they took all reasonable measures to prevent the weapon from being discharged. [28]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death. [29]

Treason.
Offenses against the person of any Malaysian federal or federated head of state are punished by death. [30]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
An offender who discharges a firearm in an attempt to murder or cause harm while resisting arrest or escaping lawful custody is death-eligible. Other participants must be punished by death if they cannot prove they took all reasonable measures to prevent the discharge. [31]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Murder.
According to human rights organizations, on December 19, 2008, a bus driver was hanged at Kajang prison for raping and murdering a computer engineer. [32]

According to a MADPET report from April 2011, of the 441 people hanged in Malaysia from 1960 to early 2011, 78 were convicted of murder. [33]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
According to various human rights and news sources, drug trafficking crimes may compose the majority of death sentences in Malaysia, with murder generally making up the difference. [34]

MADPET reported in April 2011 that of the 441 people hanged in Malaysia from 1960 to early 2011, 228 of them were convicted of drug trafficking, 130 were convicted of illegal possessions of arms, four were convicted of waging war against the king, and one individual was hanged for kidnapping. [35]

Comments.
Very little, if any, information is available to determine crimes for which individuals were executed recently. According to Amnesty International, while exact numbers are difficult to come by, it is believed that at least one execution did take place in 2010 [36] and at least one in 2011. [37]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
Children under the age of ten cannot be criminally prosecuted in Malaysia. [38] In 1995, Malaysia acceded to the Convention on the Rights of the Child with certain reservations, and by 2001 legislatively confirmed that persons committing an offense while under the age of 18 cannot be executed. [39]

Pregnant Women.
The maximum sentence for a woman pregnant at the time of sentencing is 20 years’ imprisonment. [40]

Mentally Ill.
No offense can be committed by a person who, at the time an act is committed, “by reason of unsoundness of mind, is incapable of knowing the nature of the act, or that he is doing what is either wrong or contrary to law." [41]

References

[1] Not including infanticide. Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 309(A) & (B), 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006. Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 302, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[2] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 396, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[3] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 194, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[4] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 305, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[5] Malaysia Act to amend the Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2007, art. 2, 2007.
[6] Internal Security Act of Malaysia, arts. 57(1), 58(1), 59(1), 59(2), 1960, revised 1972.
[7] Joint Action Group Against Violence Against Women, Memorandum to the Special Select Committee on Penal Code (Amendment) 2004 and Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment ) 2004, pp. 3-4, http://www.awam.org.my/images/jag_2004_memo.pdf, Oct. 28, 2004; Malaysia Act to amend the Penal Code (Amendment) Act 2007, art. 4, 2007.
[8] U.S. Dept. of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2008: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2008/122413.htm, Apr. 30, 2009.
[9] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[10] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 364, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[11] Kidnapping Act of Malaysia, art. 3(1), 1961, revised 1989.
[12] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[13] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[14] Dangerous Drugs Act of Malaysia, art. 39B, 1952, revised 1980.
[15] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 121, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[16] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 132, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[17] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[18] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 7, 1971.
[19] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 307(2), 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[20] The Dawn Media Group, Sharia Law in Malaysia, http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/news/world/30-sharia-law-in-malaysia-so-02, Feb. 19, 2010. Malaysian Official Court Web, Jurisdiction of the Court: Malaysian Judicial Structure, http://www.kehakiman.gov.my/courts/judicialEN.shtml, 2004.
[21] Penal Code of Malaysia, arts. 302, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006; Internal Security Act of Malaysia, arts. 57(1), 59(1), 59(2), 1960, revised 1972; Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971; Dangerous Drugs Act of Malaysia, art. 39(B), 1952, revised 1980.
[22] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 302, 1936, amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[23] Internal Security Act of Malaysia, arts. 57(1), 59(1), 59(2), 1960, revised 1972.
[24] Joint Action Group Against Violence Against Women, Memorandum to the Special Select Committee on Penal Code (Amendment) 2004 and Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment ) 2004, pp. 3-4, http://www.awam.org.my/images/jag_2004_memo.pdf, Oct. 28, 2004; Penal Code of Malaysia (Amendment) Act, art. 4, 2007.
[25] U.S. Dept. of State, Country Reports on Terrorism 2008: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/crt/2008/122413.htm, Apr. 30, 2009.
[26] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[27] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[28] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[29] Dangerous Drugs Act of Malaysia, art. 39(B), 1952, revised 1980.
[30] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 121, 1936, amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[31] Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act of Malaysia, art. 3(A), 1971.
[32] Charles Hector, MADPET: Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture, Malaysia Executes: Hours After Passing of Second UN Resolution Asking for Stop of All Executions, http://madpet06.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=50, Dec. 21, 2008; Chelsea L.Y. NG, Appeal Rejected, ex-Driver to Hang, The Star Online, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/12/13/courts/16300826&sec=courts, Dec. 13, 2006.
[33] MADPET, 441 Hanged to Death since 1960, Another 696 on Death Row as at 20/02/2011—Time to Abolish Death Sentence, http://madpet06.blogspot.com/2011/05/441-hanged-to-death-since-1960-another.html, April 3, 2011.
[34] Anil Netto, Death to Malaysian Water Contaminators?, Inter Press Service, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33160, May 8, 2006. MADPET: Malaysians Against the Death Penalty and Torture, Malaysia: Death Penalty Data & News Reports for 2005, http://www.reocities.com/easytocall/deathpenaltyreports2005.html, Feb. 16, 2006.
[35] MADPET, 441 Hanged to Death since 1960, Another 696 on Death Row as at 20/02/2011—Time to Abolish Death Sentence, http://madpet06.blogspot.com/2011/05/441-hanged-to-death-since-1960-another.html, April 3, 2011.
[36] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/011/2011, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2011/en, Mar. 27, 2011.
[37] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, p. 7, ACT 50/001/2012, http://amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[38] Penal Code of Malaysia, art. 82, 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.
[39] Status, Declaration, and Reservations, Conv. on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=UNTSONLINE&tabid=2&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en#Participants, last accessed Nov. 18, 2012. Child Act of Malaysia, art. 97(1), 2001.
[40] Criminal Procedure Code of Malaysia, art. 275, 1935, as amended by Act 593 of 2006.
[41] Penal Code of Malaysia, arts. 84, 309(A)&(B), 1936, as amended by Act 574 of 2006.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

No. [1]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [2]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [3]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [4]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [5]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [7]

Vote

Against. [8]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [9]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [10]

Vote

Against. [11]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [12]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [13]

Vote

Against. [14]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [15]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [16]

Vote

Against. [17]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [18]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 18, 2012.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
[7] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[8] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[9] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[10] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[11] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[12] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[13] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[14] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp.16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[15] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[16] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[17] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[18] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

Yes. Article 5(1) states that no person may be deprived of life save “in accordance with law.” Article 119(3)(b) excludes death-sentenced persons from the right to vote. [1]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

Yes. Malaysia is a federation of states, and the federal Parliament’s ability to legislate some areas is restricted except when pursuant to a treaty or decision of an international organization of which Malaysia is a member. [2] Decisions of international bodies accepted by the United Kingdom on Malaysia’s behalf prior to independence continue to be binding international law in Malaysia. [3] These provisions concerning international law may make some international law applicable in Malaysia.

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

According to a 2011 report, the Malaysian government is considering whether or not to impose an official moratorium on the death penalty. [4] Steps towards a moratorium have been reported, including granting reprieves to many currently on death row for drug crimes while the government considers whether to amend laws providing for mandatory drug sentencing. [5]

According to a July 2012 report, the Malaysian Attorney General’s Chambers is considering amending the Dangerous Drugs Act of 1952 in order to give judges the ability to sentence those convicted as drug couriers to a penalty other than death. Consideration is also being given to possibly resentencing current death row prisoners convicted under the Act. [6] According to a October 2012 report, the Malaysian Cabinet is expected to receive a proposal to commute the death sentences of at least 700, and possibly as many as 900, Malaysians and foreigners convicted of drug trafficking. [7] Over half of the prisoners that make up death row were convicted for drug offences. According to a November 2012 report published by Harm Reduction International, the Malaysian government is currently considering a moratorium on the death penalty for drug offences pending a review of mandatory sentencing for drug crimes. [8]

Other October 2012 media reports state that the Prime Minister and Malaysian government were seriously considering the proposal to alter the maximum punishment because of concern for the almost 250 Malaysians under sentence of death abroad for drug crimes. By instating an official moratorium at home, the Malaysian government believes it may be able to better advocate for commutation of the death sentences of Malaysian nationals abroad. [9] Malaysians are on death row in China, Venezuela and Peru. [10] The Singapore death penalty case of Malaysian national Yong Vui Kong, who was convicted of drug trafficking in November 2008, has also received a great deal of media coverage. [11]

Malaysia recently made rape resulting in death a capital crime. [12] While Malaysia continues to sentence significant numbers of people to death, the number of actual executions in Malaysia has dropped significantly. [13] However, the majority of death sentences are now for drug trafficking offenses rather than inherently violent crimes such as murder. [14]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

No. However, the Malaysian government is currently considering implementing a moratorium on the death penalty for drug offenses pending review of the mandatory death penalty for courier-level drug offenses. [15]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

By the end of our research, we found no cases significantly altering the application of the death penalty, but the following cases may shed light on how the Malaysian courts apply capital punishment.

In the majority of published murder cases, the Court of Appeal upholds the sentences of the High Court. However, the Court of Appeal has overturned cases for insufficiency of evidence and for abusive police practices in obtaining confessions or self-incrimination. [16]

In drug trafficking cases, the Court of Appeal appears to restrict a finding of drug trafficking to cases where there is absolute, corroborated proof of the actual event of a drug transaction. [17] However, these cases also reveal that Malaysian courts will apply the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking following a police-initiated sting transaction. [18]

Other judgments suggest that in some cases the Court of Appeal finds ways to avoid the mandatory death penalty. The Court acquitted two men who killed a business partner, allegedly in response to his repeated sexual assaults on one of the men’s wife. However, such cases, as well as a case where “jealousy” was interpreted as “insanity” to preclude criminal liability for a husband’s brutal murder of his wife, could also be interpreted as a permissive attitude towards some honor killings. [19]

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

Malaysia’s official court website offers some selected decisions: http://www.kehakiman.gov.my/?q=en.

The Malaysian Attorney General maintains a website with the status of ongoing cases, appeals, and recent decisions: http://www.agc.gov.my.

A paid subscription site, http://www.newcljlaw.com, offers court opinions from Malaysia.

A free site, http://www.commonlii.org/my/cases/MYCA/, has some rulings on the death penalty, including appeals court decisions, by Malaysian courts.

What is the clemency process?

The head of state automatically receives a report on each death-eligible case and can either commute the sentence to some other punishment, pardon the offender, or set the time and place of execution. The head of state can also grant an indefinite respite. [20]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. There are no jury trials in Malaysia. [21]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

A capital defendant appeals from the High Court to the Court of Appeal. After the Court of Appeal determines whether the appeal may be made, the judge who passed the sentence of death files a report on the case with the Federal Court, which determines the ultimate outcome. [22]

References

[1] Constitution of Malaysia, arts. 5(1), 119(3)(b), 1957.
[2] Constitution of Malaysia, art. 76(1)(a), 1957.
[3] Constitution of Malaysia, art. 169(b), 1957.
[4] Vivian Ho, The Japan Times, Malaysia Rethinks Gallows; Woman Has Hope, www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20111123f3.html, Nov. 23, 2011.
[5] Erik Pineda, Reported Death Penalty Review in Malaysia to Save Aussie’s Life, Intl. Business Times, http://au.ibtimes.com/articles/411040/20121204/reported-death-penalty-review-malaysia-save-aussie.htm#.UMn4NRyJniA, Dec. 4, 2012.
[6] Lim Chee Wee, Malaysian Mirror, Proposal to Give Judges Discretion on Death Sentence Welcomed, http://www.malaysianmirror.com/media-buzz-detail/136-letters-to-the-editor/58326-proposal-to-give-judges-discretion-on-death-sentence-welcomed, July 21, 2012. Star Online, Cabinet to Get Proposal to Defer Sentences of Those on Death Row for Drug Trafficking, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/10/24/nation/20121024142743&sec=nation, Oct. 24, 2012. Star Online, 900 on Death Row for Drug Trafficking May Get Reprieve, thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/10/25/nation/12223410&sec=nation, Oct. 25, 2012.
[7] Star Online, Cabinet to Get Proposal to Defer Sentences of Those on Death Row for Drug Trafficking, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/10/24/nation/20121024142743&sec=nation, Oct. 24, 2012. Star Online, 900 on Death Row for Drug Trafficking May Get Reprieve, thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/10/25/nation/12223410&sec=nation, Oct. 25, 2012.
[8] Harm Reduction Intl., The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2012 Tipping the Scales for Abolition, p. 30-31, http://www.ihra.net/reports, Nov. 27, 2012.
[9] New Straits Times, ‘Possible Moratorium on Death Sentence Pending Gov’ts Final Decision,’ http://www.nst.com.my/latest/possible-moratorium-on-death-sentence-pending-govt-s-final-decision-1.159690?cache=03%2F7.208021%3Fpage%3D0%3Fpage%3D0%3Fpage%3D0%3Fpage%3D0, Oct. 20, 2012.
[10] The Star Online, Cabinet to Get Proposal to Defer Sentences of Those on Death Row for Drug Trafficking, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/10/24/nation/20121024142743&sec=nation, Oct. 24, 2012.
[11] Death Penalty News, Singapore: Glimmer of Hope for Vui Kong, http://deathpenaltynews.blogspot.com/2012/09/singapore-glimmer-of-hope-for-vui-kong.html, Sept. 24, 2012.
[12] Penal Code of Malaysia (Amendment) Act, art. 2, 2007.
[13] David T. Johnson & Franklin E. Zimring, The Next Frontier: National Development, Political Change, and the Death Penalty in Asia, p. 312, Oxford University Press, 2009.
[14] Anil Netto, Death to Malaysian Water Contaminators?, Inter Press Service, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=33160, May 8, 2006; MADPET: Malaysians Against the Death Penalty and Torture, Malaysia: Death Penalty Data & News Reports for 2005, http://www.reocities.com/easytocall/deathpenaltyreports2005.html, Feb. 16, 2006.
[15] MADPET, 79 Call for the Death Penalty in Malaysia, http://madpet06.blogspot.com/, Nov. 10, 2012.
[16] See, e.g., Anderson v. Prosecutor, W-05-46-2000, Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 2004.
[17] Saari bin Jusoh v. Public Prosecutor, No. J-05-121-1995, para. 20, Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 2006; Sanusi bin Ismail v. Public Prosecutor, No. D-05-125-1995, para. 9, Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 2004; Yang v. Public Prosecutor, No. J-05-64-1997, Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 2002.
[18] See, e.g., Saari bin Jusoh v. Public Prosecutor, No. J-05-121-1995, Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 2006.
[19] Singh v. Public Prosecutor, No. B-05-81-2000, Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 2004; Public Prosecutor v. Suhaimi bin Aziz, No. W-05-39-01, Court of Appeal of Malaysia, 2003.
[20] Criminal Procedure Code of Malaysia, art. 281, 1935, amended by Act 593 of 2006.
[21] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[22] Criminal Procedure Code of Malaysia, art. 281, 1935, amended by Act 593 of 2006.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

Death row inmates are kept in a variety of prison locations, including Pengkalan Chepa prison, Puncak Borneo prison, and Kajang women’s prison. [1] News sources confirmed executions at Kajang and Taiping (among Malaysia’s prisons that are still in operation). [2]

Description of Prison Conditions

By the end of our research, we were unable to find information on prison conditions on death row in particular, but prisons in general are marked by extreme overcrowding. In 2010, reports indicated that Malaysia’s 31 prisons held 38,387 prisoners while they were designed with a maximum capacity of only 36,000. Reports indicate that at least 156 prisoners died while incarcerated between 2000 and February 2011. Abuse by prison guards reportedly occurs, with some complaints indicating torture. Generally, women and men were kept separately, as were juveniles and adults. Pretrial detainees were also generally held separately from convicted prisoners. Detainees reportedly receive inadequate food, water, bedding, medical care, and sanitation. [3]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Yes. Yes. While we do not know exact figures, it appears that a sizeable percentage of Malaysia’s death row is comprised of foreign nationals. From January to August 2012, 44 foreigners were sentenced to death. [4] As of November 2011, there are at least some Filipinos, one Liberian, four Iranians, one Zambian, twelve Indonesians, two Thais, one Singaporean, three Mexican nationals, and one Indian, among possibly other nationalities, under sentence of death in Malaysia. [5] Other recent reports stated that an additional two Iranians, [6] and one Japanese woman [7] were also sentenced to death. A 2012 report states that there are at least 75 Indonesians on death row. [8] In December 2012, a Chinese national was sentenced to death for murder. [9] Confirmed sources indicate that migrant workers, predominantly Indonesian, in Malaysia are at particular risk of death sentences for drug-related crimes. [10]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

As of November 2011, there are at least some Filipinos, three Mexicans, one Liberian, four Iranians, one Zambian, twelve Indonesians, two Thais, one Singaporean, and one Indian, among possibly other nationalities, under sentence of death in Malaysia. [11] Other recent reports stated that an additional two Iranians [12] and one Japanese woman [13] were also sentenced to death. A Chinese national was sentenced to death for murder in December 2012. [14]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

Yes. A Japanese woman was sentenced to death for drug trafficking in 2011. [15] Reports also indicate that one Zambian woman and one Indonesian woman are also under sentence of death. [16] A woman was sentenced to death in 2012 for the murder of her three-year-old child. [17] A Thai woman was sentenced to death in 2009 for drug trafficking. [18]

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

No. [19]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

One potential area for research regarding the racial and ethnic composition of death row in Malaysia involves the interaction of drug trafficking and migrant workers. For example, many migrant workers travel from Indonesia to Malaysia, only to find that work opportunities in Malaysia are limited. These individuals sometimes turn to drug trafficking and when they are caught, they face the mandatory death penalty. [20]

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

Defendants facing capital charges in Malaysia have the legal right to an attorney at public expense. [21] In practice they are not always able to secure effective representation.

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

Defendants facing capital charges in Malaysia have the legal right to an attorney at public expense. [22] In practice they are not always able to secure effective representation.

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

It is unclear that capital defendants are always able to obtain representation. [23] Some reports indicate that Malaysia’s government may intervene to discourage effective representation in certain cases where officials deem that it is necessary to prevent the defendant "from acting in any manner prejudicial to the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to the maintenance of essential services therein or to the economic life thereof,” as stipulated under Article 8 of the Internal Security Act. [24] Suspects under the Act can be detained initially for as many as 60 days without legal representation. The suspect may also be denied appearance before the courts during that time. [25] Finally, Malaysia inhibits the defendant’s access to evidence held by the police, which likely undermines an attorney’s ability to represent a client effectively. [26]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Malaysia prosecutes a number of migrant workers from Indonesia, who may not speak the language or understand their rights in Malaysia, for drug-related crimes carrying the mandatory death penalty. [27] A report from October 2012 concerning the conviction of two Indonesian brothers for murder highlights NGOs’ concerns for migrant workers facing capital punishment in retentionist countries. [28] Reports of arbitrary detention, lengthy detention, police brutality and torture suggest coercive techniques that may undermine the legitimacy of capital convictions in Malaysia. [29]

Following an appointment-fixing scandal and investigation findings released in 2008, there are serious questions concerning corruption in the judiciary and the independence of the judiciary. [30]

Women’s testimony may not hold as much weight as men’s in Shariah courts. [31]

References

[1] U.N.G. A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/47/Add.2, Feb. 8, 2011.
[2] Charles Hector, MADPET: Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture, Malaysia Executes: Hours After Passing of Second UN Resolution Asking for Stop of All Executions, http://madpet06.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00:00:00-08:00&max-results=50, Dec. 21, 2008. Daily Express Newspaper Online, Death Row Convicts Donate to Victims, http://www.dailyexpress.com.my/news.cfm?NewsID=31796, Jan. 6, 2005.
[3] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/eap/186286.htm, May 24, 2012. U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; SUHAKAM: Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, 2009 Annual Report of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, pp. 22-23, http://www.suhakam.org.my/c/document_library/get_file?p_l_id=35723&folderId=23964&name=DLFE-7714.pdf, 2009.
[4] Harm Reduction Intl., The Death Penalty for Drug Offences: Global Overview 2012 Tipping the Scales for Abolition, p. 30, http://www.ihra.net/reports, Nov. 27, 2012.
[5] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/%7Emwarren/world.html, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012. Jakarta Post, Liberian to hang for drug trafficking in Malaysia, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/05/06/liberian-hang-drug-trafficking-malaysia.html, May 6, 2010. Trend News Agency, Nigerian duo to hang for triple murders in Malaysia, http://en.trend.az/news/world/wnews/1261164.html, Aug. 2, 2008; Boston.com, Death sentence for Malaysia wedding shooting, http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2010/05/07/death_sentence_for_malaysia_wedding_shooting/, May 7, 2010; Bikya Masr, Malaysia to Execute 3 Mexican Brothers on Drug Charges, www.bikyamasr.com/75833/malaysia-to-execute-3-mexican-brothers-on-drug-charges/, Aug. 20, 2012.
[6] The Star Online, Two Iranians Get Death Sentence for Drug Trafficking, thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/24/nation/20120724173054&sec=nation, July 24, 2012.
[7] AP, Huffington Post, Japanese Woman Sentenced to Death in Malaysia, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20111025/as-malaysia-japan-death-sentence/, Oct. 25, 2011.
[8] The Star Online, Cabinet to Get Proposal to Defer Sentences of Those on Death Row for Drug Trafficking, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/10/24/nation/20121024142743&sec=nation, Oct. 24, 2012.
[9] The Straits Times, Yishun Triple Killer to Hang, The Star, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/1/asia/12396413&sec=asia, Dec. 1, 2012.
[10] Baradan Kuppusamy, Hundreds of Migrants Face Execution for Drug Crimes, Inter Press Service, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38380, Jun. 29, 2007; Southeast Asia: Malaysia Court Sentences Woman to Death for Two Pounds of Marijuana, Issue 598, Drug War Chronicle, http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/598/death_sentence_malaysia_two_pounds_marijuana, Aug. 21, 2009.
[11] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/%7Emwarren/world.html, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012. Jakarta Post, Liberian to hang for drug trafficking in Malaysia, http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2010/05/06/liberian-hang-drug-trafficking-malaysia.html, May 6, 2010. Trend News Agency, Nigerian duo to hang for triple murders in Malaysia, http://en.trend.az/news/world/wnews/1261164.html, Aug. 2, 2008; Boston.com, Death sentence for Malaysia wedding shooting, http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2010/05/07/death_sentence_for_malaysia_wedding_shooting/, May 7, 2010; Bikya Masr, Malaysia to Execute 3 Mexican Brothers on Drug Charges, www.bikyamasr.com/75833/malaysia-to-execute-3-mexican-brothers-on-drug-charges/, Aug. 20, 2012.
[12] The Star Online, Two Iranians Get Death Sentence for Drug Trafficking, thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/7/24/nation/20120724173054&sec=nation, July 24, 2012.
[13] AP, Huffington Post, Japanese Woman Sentenced to Death in Malaysia, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20111025/as-malaysia-japan-death-sentence/, Oct. 25, 2011.
[14] The Straits Times, Yishun Triple Killer to Hang, The Star, http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2012/12/1/asia/12396413&sec=asia, Dec. 1, 2012.
[15] AP, Huffington Post, Japanese Woman Sentenced to Death in Malaysia, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20111025/as-malaysia-japan-death-sentence/, Oct. 25, 2011.
[16] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/%7Emwarren/world.html, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012.
[17] New Straits Times, Couple Sentenced to Death for Killing Daughter, 3, with Hangers, news.asiaone.com/print/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Malaysia/Story/A1Story20121020-378810.html, Oct. 20, 2012.
[18] Southeast Asia: Malaysia Court Sentences Woman to Death for Two Pounds of Marijuana, Issue 598, Drug War Chronicle, http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/598/death_sentence_malaysia_two_pounds_marijuana, Aug. 21, 2009.
[19] Status, Declaration, and Reservations, Conv. on the Rights of the Child, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, Nov. 20, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=UNTSONLINE&tabid=2&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en#Participants, last accessed Nov. 16, 2012. Child Act of Malaysia, art. 97(1), 2001.
[20] Baradan Kuppusamy, Hundreds of Migrants Face Execution for Drug Crimes, Inter Press Service, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38380, Jun. 29, 2007.
[21] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010. U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/eap/186286.htm, May 24, 2012.
[22] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[23] Gary K.Y. Chan, Access to Justice in Malaysia and Singapore, pp. 33, 35-36, 38, Asian Journal of Comparative Law, vol. 2, issue 1, art. 2, 2007.
[24] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010. Internal Security Act of Malaysia, arts. 8(1), 1960, revised 1972.
[25] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010. Internal Security Act of Malaysia, art. 73(3), 1960, revised 1972.
[26] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010. U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/eap/186286.htm, May 24, 2012.
[27] Baradan Kuppusamy, Hundreds of Migrants Face Execution for Drug Crimes, Inter Press Service, http://ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=38380, Jun. 29, 2007.
[28] Ridwan Max Sijabat,, Gov’t Under Fire Over Death-Row Convicts in Malaysia, The Jakarta Post, www.thejakartapost.com/news/2012/10/25/govt-under-fire-over-death-row-convicts-malaysia.html, Oct. 25, 2012.
[29] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/eap/186286.htm, May 24, 2012. U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135998.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[30] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/eap/186286.htm, May 24, 2012.
[31] U.S. Dept. of State, 2011 Human Rights Report: Malaysia, http://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/2011/eap/186286.htm, May 24, 2012.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

The Human Rights Committee has made no comments concerning the death penalty in Malaysia.

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In 2011, the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention expressed concern for the lengthy amounts of time many individuals, including children, spend in pretrial detention, which can last several years. The Working Group also expressed concern for the lack of habeas corpus and “excessive” restrictions on appeals. Human rights guarantees are severely restricted by various preventive laws, including the Internal Security Act and the Dangerous Drugs Act. Overcrowding in prisons was also a concern for the Working Group. [1]

During Malaysia’s 2009 Universal Periodic Review, the Human Rights Council recommended that the government reduce the number of crimes for which the death penalty can be handed down, particularly non-violent crimes. The Council also recommended that Malaysia consider abolishing the death penalty. However, Malaysia rejected most recommendations calling for a moratorium on and eventual abolition of capital punishment. [2] In its response to one recommendation that Malaysia reduce the number of crimes for which the death penalty can be given, Malaysia stated that the death penalty is imposed for a limited number of offences and only for those crimes of “very serious nature.” Malaysia also stated the government is considering reducing the limited number of death-eligible crimes with proposed amendments to drug trafficking laws. The proposed amendments would reduce the maximum sentence to life imprisonment. [3]

Reports by the Human Rights Council in 2009 and 2010 indicate that individuals held under Malaysia’s Internal Security Act, which contains death-eligible offenses, are subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, likely as part of coercive interrogation techniques. [4] In some cases, arbitrary detention was used to inhibit the work of human rights defenders. [5]

A 2008 Human Rights Council report expressed concern over the mandatory death penalty, availability of pardons, and availability of data on death row prisoners. [6]

In 2007, the Committee on the Convention on the Rights of the Child indicated that Malaysia should eliminate the death penalty for persons under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, an issue Malaysia had already addressed (or has since addressed by amendment to the underlying law). [7]

References

[1] U.N.G. A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/16/47/Add.2, Feb. 8, 2011.
[2] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/30, Oct. 5, 2009.
[3] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on Universal Periodic Review Addendum, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/30/Add.1, June 3, 2009.
[4] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development, para. 185, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/11/41/Add.1, May 19, 2009.
[5] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Promotion and Protection of All Human Rights, Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Including the Right to Development, paras. 741, 742, 745-751, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/22/Add.4, Feb. 26, 2010.
[6] U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, Summary Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Accordance with Paragraph 15 (C) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1, para. 14, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/4/MYS/3, Oct. 27, 2008.
[7] U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 of the Convention, paras. 38, 39, U.N. Doc. CRC/C/MYS/CO/1, Jun. 25, 2007; Child Act of Malaysia, art. 97(1), 2001. U.N.G.A. Human Rights Council, National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 15(A) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Malaysia, para. 90, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/4/MYS/1/Rev.1, Nov. 19, 2008.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Malaysians against the Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET http://madpet06.blogspot.com/)

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

SUHAKAM (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia): http://www.suhakam.org.my/home

SUARAM (Alternative human rights organization in Malaysia): http://www.suaram.net/.

The Malaysian Bar Council opposes death penalty: http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/.

Helpful Reports and Publications

MALAYSIAKINI, http://www.malaysiakini.com/a

MADPET, http://madpet06.blogspot.com/

Additional notes regarding this country

SUKAHAM, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, recognized in its Annual Report for 2011 that public opinion is generally supportive of the death penalty when it concerns murder cases. [1]

The Malaysian Bar Council advocates abolition, and a poll in 2006 showed 64% public opposition to the death penalty. [2]

References

[1] SUHAKAM The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Annual Report 2011, http://www.suhakam.org.my/annual_report, 2012.
[2] Charles Hector, Malaysia Blindly Accepts Myths Propagated by Death Penalty Retentionists, The Malaysian Bar, http://www.malaysianbar.org.my/index2.php?option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=3433, Jul. 4, 2006.

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