Sunday, August 08, 2010

Malaysian Bar: Abolish the death penalty

Press Release

Abolish the death penalty
The Malaysian Bar calls for the abolition of the death penalty, as every individual has an inherent right to life.  This right is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that may have been committed.
Although crimes such as rape of children are very serious offences, and heavy sentences, commensurate with the gravity of the offences committed, must be meted out, the Malaysian Bar is categorically opposed to the imposition of either capital or corporal punishment as the penalty for crimes.  This position was clearly articulated in resolutions adopted at the Malaysian Bar’s Annual General Meetings in March 2006 and March 2007, respectively.
The Malaysian Bar has consistently argued that there is no empirical evidence that the death penalty serves as an effective deterrent to the commission of crimes.  Arguably, there has been no significant reduction of crimes for which the death penalty is mandatory.  Furthermore, it is not possible in any system of human justice to prevent the horrifying possibility of the execution of innocent persons.
The trend worldwide has been to abolish the death penalty, as the execution of human beings by the State serves as an “example of barbarity” to society and legitimises the taking of human life.  In 2005, the UN Commission on Human Rights passed Resolution 2005/59 calling upon all states to abolish the death penalty, and stated that the abolition of the death penalty is essential for the protection of the right to life of every human being.
While the call for the imposition of the death penalty may be a reflection of society’s abhorrence towards rapes of children, the penalty would have serious repercussions on efforts to prosecute and prevent the incidence of such crimes, protect rape survivors, and reduce further victimisation of the survivors under the legal process.  As the prosecution of rapists depends on the existence of a complaint by a rape survivor, the death penalty may discourage rape survivors from reporting the matter, especially if the perpetrator is a family member.
We also appeal to the President of the Republic of Singapore to act in accordance with international human rights norms and to show compassion by exercising clemency in the case of Malaysian Yong Vui Kong, who is in imminent danger of being hanged in Singapore for a drugs-related offence.  We encourage our colleagues at the Law Society of Singapore to continue to speak out against the use of the death penalty in Singapore.
The death penalty has no place in any society that values human rights, justice and mercy.  The Malaysian Bar calls on the Malaysian Government to immediately abolish the death penalty.
Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar
6 August 2010

No comments: