Thursday, June 11, 2015

TODAY - Asian Regional Congress on Death Penalty - 11-12 June, 2015 Kuala Lumpur - Renaissance Hotel

Come one come all to the 

Asian Regional Congress on Death Penalty - 11-12 June, 2015

11 TH & 12TH JUNE 2015
Kuala Lumpur - Malaysia
Renaissance Hotel
Published: Monday June 8, 2015 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Monday June 8, 2015 MYT 12:34:15 PM

‘Get rid of the death penalty’

KUALA LUMPUR: It takes a combination of the executive, legislature and the judiciary to steer Malaysia towards the abolition of the death penalty, says Amnesty International Malaysia.

“The executive must understand the reasons for enacting the policy and the legislature must understand the reasons for enacting – repealing and amending – laws,” said its executive director Shamini Darshni.

“The judiciary has a crucial role to play as it deals directly with people who are impacted by the laws and policies of a country,” she said in an interview ahead of the first Regional Congress on the Death Penalty here.

It would take all three, replied Shamini, when asked which branch of government has been the most supportive in repealing death pe­­nal­ty provisions in countries that have done away with them.

Malaysian laws provide for both mandatory and discretionary death sentences and, according to the Home Ministry, there were 975 pri­soners on death row as at Nov 13.

In December, 117 members of the United Nations’ 193 member states supported a UN General Assembly resolution for a moratorium on executions with a view to abolishing the death penalty globally. 

Malaysia voted against it, said Shamini.

The two-day meeting beginning June 11 is organised by the French association Together Against the Death Penalty (ECPM) in collaboration with the Anti-Death Penalty Asian Network, Suhakam and the Bar Council.

She added that the congress would allow the global anti-death penalty movement to demonstrate international support for Malaysia to become a death penalty-free country. 

While the civil society movement in Asia has shown a stronger commitment towards abolishing the death penalty in recent decades, she said the region was the “biggest user of this heinous and cruel form of punishment used in the name of justice”.

Shamini said the movement was targeting the government in gene­ral, the Attorney-General’s Cham­bers and the Prime Minister’s ­De­­part­ment specifically for an immediate suspension of the death penalty with a view to total abolition.

“The death penalty can be a complicated subject but the message we must drive home is how ineffective it is. It does not reduce or deter crime, nor does it deter future cri­mi­­nals.

“As the argument for abolition continues, backed up by solid research from organisations, we hope to change policy within ­go­­vernments of countries that have the death penalty in place.

“In the end, it takes political will to make a change in national law,” said Shamini.

She added that organisations such as ECPM play a crucial role in educating the public on the evils and ineffectiveness of the death pe­nalty through targeted programmes.

A recent public opinion survey commissioned by the Bar Council showed Malaysians believe in the death penalty but do not want to impose it, even on those who commit serious crimes such as murder, drug trafficking and offences under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act.

Asked whether getting rid of the mandatory death penalty, but not the death penalty itself, half the battle would be won or just baby steps, Shamini said they opposed the death penalty in all situations.

“Governments must always adhere to international law where the death penalty is concerned.

“Abolishing the mandatory death penalty is a step in the right direction, but governments must 
demonstrate commitment towards complete abolition by first establishing an official moratorium on executions. 

“Another message we want to drive home through this regional congress is to call on Malaysia and all other Asian governments which retain the death penalty to commute without delay all death sentences.”

On March 4, 2013, Indonesia ended a four-year moratorium on the death penalty with the execution of 
Adami Wilson, a citizen of Malawi. More recently, on April 28, a firing squad killed eight prisoners, including two Australians who had spent a decade in jail.

Asked whether a moratorium was a worse form of torture because of the uncertainty of when it would end, she said a temporary halt was with a view to total abolition.

“The mental torture of living under the threat of imminent execution is certainly more inhumane than a temporary reprieve that a moratorium allows for,” she added.

Shamini disputed the popular reason given by the executive and lawmakers that the death penalty was an effective tool in reducing crime.

“In fact, it has even been recorded that some countries like the United States bring up debates to retain the death penalty during election time to chalk up the image of being tough on crime.

“Further, we have witnessed global incidents where the death penalty was used as a political tool to oppress citizens, like in recent times in Egypt, where mass sen­tences were imposed.”

With the introduction of the first Asian Regional Congress on the Death Penalty, Shamini said they hoped to change law and policy through awareness, education and debate. - Star, 7/6/2015, Get Rid of the Death Penalty

Asian Regional Congress to focus on death penalty for drug offences

Asian Regional Congress Death Penalty

More than 300 lawyers, magistrates, parliamentarians, sociologists, theologians, journalists, NGO members and activists will be attending the Asian Regional Congress on the death penalty, which will be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 11 June to 12 June.

Speakers at the Congress who hail from Singapore include Associate Professor Chan Wing Cheong from the Faculty of Law at the National University of Singapore, and human rights lawyer M Ravi.

The plenary session will focus on the death penalty used as a penalty for drug offences.

The Congress will be hosting delegates from 30 countries, and will consist of one plenary session, two roundtable discussions and four workshops.

Topics include:
  •  The inefficiency of death penalty in drug related crimes.
  • The responsibility of the European countries and UN agencies in financing anti-drug programs in retentionist countries.
  • Make a clear distinction between the death penalty and the mandatory death penalty, and to consider the abolition of the mandatory death penalty as a first step towards total abolition.
  • Personal experiences of members of the Judiciary when dealing with a death penalty cases.
  • Discrimination in the use of the death penalty.
  • Need to respect the criminal procedures set up and guaranteed by the Criminal Procedure Code.
  • Role of diplomacy and international NGOs in promoting abolition.
  • Working with the family of the victims.
  • Integration of educative workshops in academic systems’ curricula
The Congress will also provide an opportunity for journalists to abolitionist actors, lawyers working with people sentenced to death in Asia, and victims’ families.


It will also include a cultural programme, which has a component that showcases letters written by former death-row inmate Yong Vui Kong, who escaped the gallows in Singapore in 2013 when his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment following a change in the law on the mandatory death penalty in Singapore in 2012.

The Asian Regional Congress on the death penalty, held ahead of the next World Congress in Oslo, Norway in June 2016, is co-organised by the French organisation Together Against the Death Penalty (Ensemble contre la peine de mort – ECPM) and the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN), in partnership with The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and the Bar Council Malaysia, under the sponsorship of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and with support of the Australian mission to the United Nations in Geneva and the European Union.

The full programme for the conference is available online.

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