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Malaysia intends to axe mandatory death penalty

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia’s government said yesterday it has agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty, with campaigners welcoming the move but cautioning the country had failed to deliver on previous vows to improve rights.

The death penalty remains mandatory for several offences in the nation, including murder and drug trafficking, although a moratorium on executions has been in place since 2018.

That year a reformist alliance took power and announced it would abolish capital punishment but the plan stalled due to opposition from political rivals and victims’ families.

Since then, a watered-down proposal of axing only the death penalty in cases where it is mandatory had been mooted.

Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said yesterday the Cabinet had agreed to abolish mandatory capital punishment.

Further study would be conducted on what sentences could be substituted, he said.

“The decision on this matter shows the government’s priority to ensure the rights of all parties are protected and guaranteed,” he said in a statement. Legislation will need to be enacted in Parliament to make the changes, and Wan Junaidi told AFP it would “take a little while”.

Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar speaks at a Parliamentary session. PHOTO: BERNAMA
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