Malaysia Moves Ahead on Effort to Abolish Death Penalty

Malaysian Government's plans to abolish death penalty could save Sydney grandmother's life

Malaysia has chose to abolish the death penalty, a senior minister said Thursday, with more than 1200 people on death row, including Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, set to win a reprieve following a groundswell of opposition to capital punishment.

Liew Vui Keong, a minister in the prime minister's department, said on Wednesday that amendments to the existing laws would be introduced in the next session, which begins on October 15.

Liew said the necessary paperwork to abolish the death penalty which is now in its the final stages had received the go ahead from the Attorney General Chambers to be tabled in Parliament.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, who is the de facto law minister, said the only issue was what to do with the convicts now on death row.

Two Chilean tourists, now on trial for the murder of a Malaysian man, would also have faced the death penalty if found guilty of murder.

When someone is sentenced to death, the head of state automatically receives a report on each case and can either commute the sentence to another punishment, pardon the offender, or set the time and place for the execution.

The country mandates hanging perpetrators for a wide range of crimes, including murder, drug trafficking, treason and acts of terror.

Human Rights Watch hailed the "fabulous news", with its deputy director for Asia Phil Robertson saying the move would increase pressure on other countries in the region to follow suit.

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Amnesty International also cheered the news, calling it "an astounding announcement".

The decision was welcomed by rights advocates.

Neighbouring Singapore, also a former British colony, maintains the death penalty for certain crimes such as murder and drug trafficking.

"Once the death penalty is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences overseas", he added.

In a statement on Thursday, Amnesty International said the decision was a "major step forward".

While Indonesia carried out the highest number of executions over the past five years, Mr Hamid said the country had been making improvements.

De Lima said that as a human rights defender and legislator, she has pushed for the introduction of the penalty of qualified reclusion perpetua in criminal laws to ensure restorative justice instead of punitive measures.

Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan - in that order - carried out 84 per cent of all executions in 2017.

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