Suhakam calls for moratorium on death penalty

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called on the government to review the relevance of capital punishment, recommending for a moratorium on the death penalty.

Referring to the execution of brothers Rames and Suthar Batumalai on Wednesday, its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail opined that the mandatory death penalty must be abolished so that judges will be given discretionary powers for a convicted person.

"Suhakam reiterates that the mandatory imposition of the death penalty violates the basic right to life, as enshrined in international human rights law as it constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of life, as well as denies judges the possibility of taking into account the facts of the offence or the characteristics of each individual offender for the purposes of sentencing," he said in a statement today.

Rames, 45, and Suthar, 40, were sentenced to death in April 2010 under Section 302 of the Penal Code after being found guilty of murdering Krishnan Raman on Feb 4, 2006. The two have maintained their innocence.

In condemning the double execution, Amnesty International Malaysia pointed out that the new application for clemency was filed by their lawyer on Feb 23, while the executions, which were initially scheduled for Feb 24 and halted at the last hour, were fixed again for March 17, before being forwarded to March 15.

"International law clearly states that executions may not be carried out pending any appeal or other proceeding relating to pardon or commutation of the sentence," its executive director Shamini Darshni had said in a statement earlier.