The Malaysian government’s move to halt an execution scheduled for today is positive but the lives of hundreds of others on death row are still at risk, Amnesty International said.
Malaysian authorities had planned to execute murder convict Chandran Paskaran today, but after an outcry from human rights groups announced a stay on the execution today.
“We are glad that Chandran Paskaran will not be put to death today, but his life is still at risk – his death sentence must be commuted immediately,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.
“It is shocking that it took an outcry from human rights groups for this postponement to happen. What about the other secretive executions Malaysia is planning to carry out, that do not get the same attention?”
In breach of international law, Chandran’s death sentence had been imposed mandatorily, giving the judge no chance to consider mitigating circumstances in the case. A review of Malaysia’s mandatory laws was announced in 2012.
“The Malaysian government should immediately take a serious look at its practices around the death penalty. A first step must be to reform the laws on mandatory death penalty – the government promised to do so in 2012, but there’s been no progress so far,” said Isabelle Arradon.
“There are many others in Chandran’s position who are at risk of being put to death. The hundreds of prisoners on death row should have their sentences commuted immediately. The death penalty always violates the right to life, regardless of the circumstances of the crime or the method of execution.”
Executions have been carried out in Malaysia in a secretive manner, without prior or posthumous announcements. Transparency on the use of the death penalty is an essential safeguard in death penalty cases, as it not only allows for informed and meaningful debates on the issue, but also gives the possibility of appeals being filed to ensure that due process has been followed.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases without exception. The organization urges Malaysia to halt all plans for executions, commute existing death sentences and put in place a moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition.