Malaysia ― Human Rights Council ― Death Penalty ― Apr. 2013

The Advocates for Human Rights in collaboration with Harm Reduction International submitted a joint stakeholder report on Malaysia’s human rights obligations regarding the death penalty to the UN Human Rights Council for its October 2013 Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia.

Malaysia remains one of only 58 countries in the world that retains the death penalty for ordinary crimes. Malaysia violates international human rights standards by imposing the death penalty, subjecting prisoners to cruel and inhuman conditions on death row, and by allowing imposition of the death penalty for ordinary crimes and requiring the death penalty for other crimes. The report also recommends remedies for these violations.

Various criminal statutes in Malaysia provide for either mandatory or discretionary death sentences for acts including murder, drug trafficking, discharging of a firearm (assisted suicide), and certain kinds of treason. Drug trafficking laws give rise to the majority of death sentences and executions, in violation of international standards that call for restricting the death penalty to the most serious offenses. Human rights bodies and other groups have urged Malaysia to abolish the death penalty altogether, but the country has continued to sentence over 100 people to death each year since 2010 and has an estimated 900 people on death row as of November 2012.

The joint stakeholder report recommends that Malaysia:

  • Abolish the death penalty for all offenses, and in absence of that abolition, place a moratorium on all executions;
  • Limit use of capital punishment to the most serious crimes and eliminate its use for drug-related crimes;
  • Ensure basic due process for accused drug traffickers;
  • Modify the statutory framework to afford more discretion in sentencing and to eliminate mandatory death sentences; and
  • Take steps to improve living conditions for people on death row.