Suhakam: Death penalty is a grave violation of human rights

By Khaw Lake Tee, Vice Chairman, Suhakam

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) views with great concern the continued presence of the death penalty as a form of punishment in our statute books.

The Commission maintains that the death penalty, although regulated and carried out only after compliance with the legal process, and the exhaustion of all the rights to appeal and the right to pardon, is a grave violation of human rights, in particular, the right of a person to life and the right not to be subject to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment that are emphasised under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Commission welcomes the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s recognition and respect of basic human rights and individual rights and the balance between these rights and the rules of law within the nation’s Parliamentary democratic system.

Whilst the Commission welcomes the Government’s commitment made through the Universal Periodic Review report on Malaysia to abolish the death penalty in relation to children, it also wishes to call upon the Government to review the relevance and effectiveness of the capital punishment and to join the other 140 UN member states to completely abolish death penalty.

In the interim, it urges the Government to consider a moratorium on the death sentence or to commute the sentences to life imprisonment especially for those who have been on death row for more than five years.

In addition, the Commission also calls upon the Government to consider adopting the International Standard Minimum Rules for treatment of Prisoners, to ensure the well being of the prisoners on death row as well as all the other prisoners.