KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's mandatory death penalty is arbitrary and discriminatory and ought to be abolished, stated a prominent human rights lawyer. Speaking at the Forum on Death Penalty in Malaysia organised by Hakam in conjunction with Human Rights Week (Dec 8-12), Abdul Rashid Ismail said that since the mandatory death penalty does not consider the circumstances of its offences, it violates the basic right to life, as enshrined in international human rights laws. Citing past cases in Malaysia, Abdul Rashid, who is also Hakam's immediate presiding president, pointed out that most nations retaining the death penalty have done away with its mandatory nature, reserving it for serious and extraordinary crimes. Highlighting Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), he stated it contravenes the mandatory death penalty as the ICCPR is customary international law and should therefore be a part of Malaysian law. He was also careful to stress that the ICCPR does not abolish the death penalty itself but only removes its mandatory nature. "For offences such as drug trafficking, the mandatory sentence is automatic and indisputable. This is unjust as most individuals sentenced for drug trafficking are commonly duped low-ranking mules while the kingpins often escape the net," said Abdul Rashid.