Motion on Abolishment of the Death Penalty
WHEREAS every human being has the inherent right to life;
WHEREAS Malaysia has hanged at least 358 persons between 1981 and 2005;
WHEREAS about 173 persons are on death row as at December 2005;
a) studies conducted throughout the world over the past seventy years have failed to find convincing evidence that capital punishment is a more effective deterrent of crime than long-term imprisonment;
b) studies conducted in Australia show that abolition of the death penalty had no effect on the homicide rate, and in Canada there in fact was a sharp decline in the homicide rate after abolition;
c) in the United States, over the past twenty years, states with the death penalty in general have had a higher homicide rate than states without the death penalty;
WHEREAS on the other hand the execution of human beings by the State gives an ‘example of barbarity’ to society and legitimizes the taking of human life;
WHEREAS Malaysia lacks safeguards that would ensure a fair trial such as the right to immediate access to a lawyer upon arrest, right to full disclosure of evidence in the possession of the police and prosecution, and has to the extreme prejudice of accused persons loaded a capital crime statute such as the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (which generates the largest number of death sentences annually) with presumptions of trafficking that compromise the presumption of innocence which is integral to any fair and just criminal justice system;
a) it is not possible in any system of human justice to prevent the horrifying possibility of the execution of innocent persons; and
b) the infliction of the death penalty makes wrongful convictions irreversible;
a) 122 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice, as opposed to 74 countries which retain the death penalty;
b) An average of three countries have abolished the death penalty each year over the last decade;
c) the trend worldwide has been for the abolition of the death penalty;
WHEREAS the UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2005/59 passed in 2005 calls upon all states to abolish the death penalty, and states that the abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of the right to life of every human being;
WHEREAS Article 1 of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides that ‘No one within the jurisdiction of a State party to the present Optional Protocol shall be executed’.
WHEREAS the death penalty has no place in any society which values human rights, justice and mercy;
NOW IT IS HEREBY RESOLVED that the Malaysian Bar calls for:
1) The abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia;
2) An immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition;
3) Commutation of the sentences of all persons currently on death row;
4) Ratification by Malaysia of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Seconders: Amer Hamzah Arshad
The Motion was adopted.