Malaysia hailed over plans to abolish death penalty

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"Full stop", Datuk Liew Vui Keong - minister in charge of law in the Prime Minister's Department - told media at an event at University of Malaya.

Bills to repeal both the Sedition Act and the death penalty are expected to be tabled before the parliament which sits on Monday.

Mr Guterres noted the lack of transparency in some countries, where the death penalty was still used, underscoring its incompatibility with human rights standards.

"I was pushing for the introduction into Philippine criminal laws the penalty of qualified reclusion perpetua, to ensure that, even in extraordinarily heinous crimes, our policy direction looks at restorative justice over punitive or retributive measures, while equally aware and conscious of the need to bring to justice perpetrators of the most egregious offenses", she said.

Capital punishment in Malaysia is now mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms and drug trafficking, among other crimes.

Foreign embassies and rights groups were supportive of the move.

However, Liew said that if their sentence is commuted then the inmates will have to face life imprisonment because they have been the cause of several deaths, which is why they were given the death penalty in the first place.

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The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, who is the de facto law minister, said the only issue was what to do with the convicts now on death row.

The government's announcement was "an encouraging sign", Amnesty International's Kumi Naidoo said in a statement.

Regionally, only Cambodia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste have abolished the death penalty.

The ban on the death penalty affects the two women accused of murdering Kim Jong-Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il a year ago.

To date, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. The decision was welcomed by rights advocates, who said there was never any proof that mandatory death sentences deterred offenders from violent or drug-related crimes.

"Having rejected the death penalty in this country, we now have the moral authority to fight for the lives of our citizens overseas", he said, referring to the hundreds of Malaysians on death row in Singapore and other countries, particularly for being drug mules. Amnesty International said it was "a major step forward for all those who have campaigned for an end to the death penalty in Malaysia".

Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan - in that order - carried out 84 per cent of all executions in 2017.

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