Malaysia To Abolish Death Penalty, Says Minister

Indonesian Siti Aisyah left and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong right escorted by police as they leave a court hearing in Shah Alam Malaysia

Indonesian Siti Aisyah left and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong right escorted by police as they leave a court hearing in Shah Alam Malaysia

Malaysia's new government said it will abolish the death penalty for all crimes and halt all pending executions, a rare move against capital punishment in Asia that human rights groups hailed Thursday as a major advance.

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

Foreign embassies and rights groups were supportive of the move.

"Today, I join fellow human rights defenders and the global community in renewing and sustaining the campaign against the death penalty", De Lima said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Our view is that executions should not be carried out we will inform the Pardons Board to look into the various applications for all the death row inmates to either commute or release them".

The next parliament sitting starts on Monday.

The government's announcement was "an encouraging sign", Amnesty International's Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) has called for a discussion on the death penalty, due to the high crime statistics in the country.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah and Doan Thi Huong.

There are no jury trials in Malaysia for capital punishment.

Sirul Azhar Umar (left) was found guilty of murdering Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu (right).

He said until the abolishment of the death penalty rakes place there should also be in place a moratorium of death penalty sentences from being carried out.

Only 23 countries retain the death penalty, with China believed to be the "world's top executioner", according to Amnesty International in its report last month on capital punishment in 2017.

A total of 1,267 prisoners are on death row, making up 2.7 percent of the 60,000-strong prison population.

Earlier in his opening speech, Liew said the Pakatan Harapan government is also mulling a repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 and other draconian laws.

The decision was welcomed by rights advocates.

Malaysian police stand guard as anti-death penalty activists protest in Kuala Lumpur.

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

Amnesty International reported in March that 799 people on death row were convicted of drug trafficking, including 416 foreign nationals.

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