Monday, March 17, 2014

Malaysia must stop hanging people - 2nd known attempt stopped

Malaysia for many years stopped 'hanging', and it looked that Malaysia was moving towards the abolition of the death penalty. At the very least, we were looking at the abolition of the MANDATORY death penalty in the laws, giving back Judges when it comes to sentencing of certain crimes - i.e. the discretion to sentence to death or to sentence to imprisonment (maybe for life or for natural life). But, in 2014, this is the 2nd case where Malaysia nearly hung someone. See earlier post:- Chandran Paskaran saved at the last minute from being hanged to death

We know of these 2 attempts to hang people in Malaysia - but we do not know whether there were others who have been hanged. Why? There is little or no notification of these attempts to carry out the death penalty. If we know, then we all can also appeal to the King or the relevant Sultans or other authorities to stop the killing, and maybe even commute the sentence to imprisonment. People, even judges, police, prosecutors, lawyers and others, in the criminal justice system are all fallible - they, on behalf of all Malaysians, can make mistakes. So let us abolish the death penalty. It has been proven that death penalty is not to be a deterrent. It has been shown that it is most unjust for drug mules and some others who never really killed anyone to be hanged to death. Many families and friends of victims really want perpetrators of crime punished but not sentenced to death. 

In Malaysia, worse still, there is much concern about the fairness of our judges and courts, or the credibility of our police and prosecutors. Remember the Anwar's 'black eye case' where the police had come out claiming that they did not cause it - later only to be revealed that it the police that did it. And now we have the case of the missing MH370, we have the police saying at first categorically that all who booked on the flight boarded it, later only to be told that this was not exactly true - now it is said 4 who booked never checked in and they were replaced by standby passengers. It is not only the case of Malaysia but also other countries, even the US, where 'mistakes' can be made by courts. 

In Malaysia, in cases that carry the death penalty, at the High Court, there is only one judge that decides on guilt or innocence, is that safe? Maybe, we need to bring back the JURY, when at least there will be more people involved in considering the available evidence, etc and determining the guilt or innocence of persons, and this maybe should be brought back for all criminal cases that carry sentences 10 years imprisonment or more.   

The risk of sending an innocent person to death is, I believe, the strongest reason why we should abolish the death penalty in Malaysia. We know of the Taiwan case, where a man already executed was found later to be innocent. [See]

"My son was killed for a crime he did not commit…. our family has lived in shame and neighbours never spoke to us. Whatever apology or compensation the government promises, it is too late.”- Wang Tsai-lien, mother of Chiang Kuo-ching who was coerced into making a confession and subsequently executed in error in 1997 in Taiwan.

Recently, in March 2014, we have the case of an American on death row, who has now been released after 30 years because he was not guilty...

Glenn Ford has been freed from the notorious Angola prison in Louisiana having lived under the shadow of the death sentence for 30 years. He becomes one of the longest-serving death row inmates in US history to be exonerated.

Ford was released on the order of a judge in Shreveport after Louisiana state prosecutors indicated they could no longer stand by his conviction. In late 2013 the state notified Ford’s lawyers that a confidential informant had come forward with new information implicating another man who had been among four co-defendants originally charged in the case. - Guardian, 12/3/2014,Death row inmate Glenn Ford released 30 years after wrongful conviction


Press Release   
The Malaysian Bar Commends Swift Action by the Government in Stay of Execution of Death Sentence on Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon
The Malaysian Bar is heartened by, and welcomes, the stay of execution of the death penalty on Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), originally scheduled for 6:00 am today.  

The Malaysian Bar commends the swift action of the Government, and in particular the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, YB Puan Hajah Nancy Shukri, and the Honourable Attorney General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, in obtaining a stay of the execution.  

The execution of a criminal, albeit for a heinous crime, is not so much about his crime, but is about, and reflective of, our own humanity.

Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon is reported to have been convicted on a charge of murder, and has been on death row for 18 years.  He is said to be suffering from mental illness, namely schizophrenia.  He apparently did not apply for clemency, possibly because he was unable to make proper decisions as a result of his mental illness.  

Although it is reported that his mental illness developed after the commission of the crime, it is nevertheless unnecessary and unmerciful to kill a mentally ill person who has already been in jail for 18 years.  We ask that his death sentence be commuted to one of life imprisonment.

The Malaysian Bar advocates the abolition of the death penalty, in the belief that every individual has an inherent right to life.  This right is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that may have been committed.  The death penalty has no place in a society that values human life, justice and mercy.  

We understand that the Government is currently looking into law reforms in respect of the mandatory death penalty, with a view to its possible abolition or the reintroduction of a discretionary death penalty.  In light of such review, the Government should, in the interest of justice, implement and announce an immediate official moratorium on any and all executions of the death sentence.

The Malaysian Bar reiterates its call on the Malaysian Government to abolish the death penalty without delay.  Those who have been sentenced with the death penalty should all be resentenced.  

Christopher Leong
Malaysian Bar
14 March 2014

No comments: