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KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18, 2015:

Malaysia is looking to follow in the footsteps of other nations in abolishing the mandatory death sentence for drug-related offences to allow focus to be shifted towards prevention and rehabilitation efforts.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government was viewing the proposal seriously as the shift was pivotal in allowing authorities to deal with the issue of supply and demand of drugs.

“We are not only looking in terms of the legal aspect but also the human face of the government as well.

“That is why the steps (to amend the laws) are being taken seriously.

“In terms of enforcement, agencies can conduct prevention on the importation of materials used for (making) drugs and the process of making drugs,” he told a press conference after officiating the Asean+ Youth Leaders Summit (AYLS) in the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) building here this morning.

On Friday, Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali said he would propose to the government to take necessary steps to abolish the mandatory imposition of the death penalty for drug-related offences so that judges would have the power to dispense discretion in all drug-trafficking and related cases.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said he would also monitor the amendments and fine-tuning of the laws so they would be in line with the authorities’ efforts to curtail the drug menace.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, in a statement today, welcomed the proposed move.

“The Commission believes that this positive development will bring Malaysia’s position on the issue closer in line with many countries that have in recent years abolished the mandatory death sentence.”

He said the Commission in 2012 welcomed this proposal following an announcement by the then defacto Law Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, and reiterated that the death penalty undermined human dignity and violated the right to life.

In the interim, the Commission advised the government to review all criminal laws to ensure that the death penalty, if imposed, was applicable only to the most serious crimes, as defined by Article 6(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The Commission also recommended that the government consider acceding to the ICCPR and its Second Optional Protocol, and to aim towards the eventual abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia, joining 140 of the 193 United Nations’ member states that have abolished the death penalty or introduced moratoriums, either in law or in practice.

“The Commission hopes that these proposed amendments will be expeditiously brought to Parliament and that pending such an outcome, there will be a moratorium on all executions.”

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