Malaysia Is Scrapping The Mandatory Death Penalty

News Asia 360
ByNews Asia 360

On Monday, the Malaysian parliament voted in favour of abolishing the mandatory death penalty, which would effectively spare over 1,300 individuals currently on death row. This move is part of a larger effort to revise and improve colonial-era laws while giving judges more authority when it comes to sentencing decisions.

The new legal regime is now applicable for previously committed crimes and the 11 violations that were codenamed for capital punishment can be met with life imprisonment, 30-40 years’ incarceration, plus 12 caning strokes.

The revised legislation has not only abolished capital punishment, but it also eliminates the sentence of “natural life” imprisonment, whereby an offender is kept in prison until their death, and replaces it with a less severe sanction of 30-40 years’ “life imprisonment” plus caning.

Even though the law has abolished the death penalty for most cases, judges are still granted the liberty to provide it as a sentence in special instances based on their own discretion.

After five long years, the Malaysian government, led by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad in 2018, finally committed a moratorium on death penalty sentences and took steps to eventually abolish it. After 5 years of the commitment made, this crucial vote was a major step forward in their commitment towards achieving this goal.

Despite the drastic political changes in Malaysia during 2020, the moratorium has remained untouched and strong. This period saw four prime ministers come and go within a three-year window, however, the moratorium still stands.

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