Govt must move towards abolishing capital punishment – Kasthuri Patto

“There is no justice in killing in the name of justice” – Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

File photo of Kashthuri Patto during a press conference at the Parliament.

PENANG, Oct 10 – As Malaysia prepares to move into the Covid-19 recovery phase, saving lives from the unseen enemy, the Government must also commit itself to preserve life and move into abolishing the mandatory capital punishment, says Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan, Kasthuri Patto.

Releasing a statement in conjunction with the World Day Against the Death Penalty today, October 10th, the MP said Malaysia has recorded 27,191 casualties to Covid-19 and while all resources – of manpower, finance and political will has been channelled towards managing and defeating the unseen enemy, Malaysia must not forget its commitment to put an end to the Government being a state party to capital punishments.

While the sufferings of the families of victims of violent crimes should not be forgotten, she said, the pain of families whose loved ones are on death row should also not be forgotten.

“This year as we celebrate the World Day Against the Death Penalty on October 10th with the theme of women sentenced to death, we are reminded of the women on death row all over the world and in Malaysia. According to the Cornell Centre on the Death Penalty Worldwide, there are at least 800 women on death row and a Parliamentary reply last year recorded 129 women on death row in Malaysian prisons. This translates to 16 percent of the global number of women on death row. Certainly not a figure Malaysians should be proud of.”

Kasthuri also noted that those who have committed horrific crimes and sentenced to death are factory workers, bus drivers, small time contractors, odd job workers and the jobless – which correlates to over 86% of people on death row in Malaysian prisons today.

Of the 144 countries that have abolished the death penalty in practice and law, Malaysia remains one of the few countries amongst the 51 that still believes that executing people will cause crime rates to reduce, to act as a deterrent.

“Over the years the numbers of men and women on death row in Malaysia have increased and shows no signs of a reduction and crime rates still remain at a high.

“This is an indicator that the Government must devote to finding out why our death row prisons are filling up, year after year.”

It must invest tirelessly into reforms – the criminal justice system, social development, plug porous borders, punish corrupt officials, the menace of drug abuse and the mental state of health of her people.

“The late VK Liew, Minister of Law and Parliamentary Affairs under Pakatan Harapan was the person who signed the document that still stands today, which is a moratorium on executions. There are 33 offences that warrants the death penalty in Malaysia – 11 mandatory and 22 discretionary. Although he worked hard engage with civil society, former judges, the police force and even with religious leaders, his work to abolish the mandatory death penalty came to a halt when the Government changed and it has been silent till now.”

A seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council must be met with sincere efforts and resolutions back home to ensure that human rights, including the right to life, is preserved and the rule of law is upheld and defended without fear, favour or prejudice, Kashthuri said.