The Malaysian Bar welcomes the government’s move to abolish the death penalty as it is a form of retributive justice, its president George Varughese said.
“It is is akin to taking ‘an eye for an eye’ and does not assure a safe and secure society. It diminishes our collective humanity,” he said, adding that the Cabinet’s decision was clearly a correct and conscionable one.
He said very little was achieved in having the death penalty, except to satisfy the need for revenge.
“In a modern society, we must focus more on rehabilitation and restoration,” he said in a statement.
He said this in response to the announcement by de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong that amendments to abolish the death penalty would be tabled in Parliament in the coming sitting.
Varughese said the Bar was steadfast in its view that life was sacred and every person had an inherent right to life, as enshrined in Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution.
“The right to life is a fundamental right that must be absolute, inalienable and universal, irrespective of the crime committed by the accused person.”
Varughese said as Malaysia progressed in its democratic development, the nation must shift away from killing people in the name of “justice”.
He said in the meantime, the government would need to work with the pardons boards — both federal and state — to ensure that about 1,250 convicted persons currently on death row would also be spared the death penalty.
In Malaysia, capital punishment is imposed on those convicted of murder, dadah trafficking and firearms offences.
He said all death sentences should be commuted to jail terms that were proportionate to the gravity of offences committed, after taking into consideration the mitigating factors.