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Abolish death penalty: M’sian Law minister

From the Star Online:

By RASHVINJEET S.BEDI
[email protected]

KUALA LUMPUR: It is time for Malaysia to abolish the death penalty, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz.

“If it is wrong to take someone’s life, then the Government should not do it either. It’s ironic and not correct,” he told Sunday Star.

The de-facto law minister believed there was always the possibility that the accused person was not guilty.

“No criminal justice system is perfect. You take a man’s life and years later, you find out that another person did the crime. What can you do?”

In Malaysia, the death sentence is mandatory for murder and drug trafficking among other crimes. Recently, there have even been calls to classify fatal baby dumping cases as murder.

Nazri pointed out that worldwide, the trend was to abolish the death penalty.

However, he believed a change in the people’s mindset was needed before the law could be amended.

“It has been discussed informally (in the Government) but we don’t have the political will to do it at the moment,” he admitted, adding that the death penalty did not seem to be a deterrent to drug trafficking and murder.

Former High Court and Court of Appeal judge Datuk K.C. Vohrah is also in favour of abolishing the death penalty.

“The law is the law but I wish Parliament would abolish the death sentence because if a mistake is made, it would be irreversible. There are other ways of dealing with heinous crimes,” he said.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said the commission was against capital punishment and had recommended its removal to the Government.

The Bar Council is also all for doing away with the death sentence.

“It is a form of punishment to exact vengeance but society has to learn to be more compassionate,” said council vice-president Lim Chee Wee, adding that resolutions to abolish capital punishment were made during the council’s AGM in 2006 and 2007.