Call for permanent moratorium on death penalty

FMT Reporters | January 27, 2015

PETALING JAYA: With the controversy over convicted killer Sirul Azhar Umar’s extradition from Australia, Lawyers for Liberty say now is the best time to impose a permanent moratorium on all death penalty punishments and take steps towards its abolishment.

In a statement, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said the Malaysian government should take this golden opportunity to re-evaluate the death penalty as a mode of punishment.

“The death penalty has no place in any civilised society that values human rights, justice and mercy. It is the ultimate human rights violation, a state-sanctioned murder, unique in its cruelty and finality.

“In the absence of a fair and just criminal justice system and access to competent legal representation, the death penalty disproportionately affects the poorer and lower classes, and risks the likelihood of wrongful convictions.

“Needless to say, (the) death penalty is irreversible and cannot be remedied,” he said.

According to Paulsen, Malaysia remains among an ever decreasing minority of countries that still provide for the death penalty.

A total of 137 states have abolished the death penalty in law or practice i.e. more than 70 per cent of the total number of states in the world.

In December 2014, a record number of countries, 117 of the United Nation’s 193 member states supported a key UN General Assembly resolution calling for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty globally.

“Despite popular belief, there is no cogent empirical evidence to show the death penalty is a more effective deterrent of crime than long-term imprisonment and thus there is no good reason to maintain the death penalty,” he said.

Once the death penalty is abolished, Sirul can be extradited to Malaysia in order for him to be imprisoned for the murder of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu in 2006.