Human Rights, Environment & Social StudiesLNA World

A humane and progressive decision

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Abolition of mandatory death penalty is a progressive decision. Sasha Freemind on Unsplash.

By. Dr Haezreena Begum Abdul Hamid

The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 which removes the mandatory death penalty and natural life imprisonment is an apt and humane decision and in line with Malaysia’s status as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council (2022-2024). Furthermore, there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty.

Dr Haezreena Begum Abdul Hamid

Evidence has also shown that recipients of the mandatory death penalty often come from a disadvantaged and lower socio-economic background.

The effectiveness of the death penalty in order to prevent crime has often been questioned by legal activists and human rights advocates due to its non-deterrent effect.

Recidivism rates particularly in drug offences continue to rise despite having capital punishment. This suggest that retributive justice may not necessarily be effective in dealing with serious crimes. Punishing offenders just because they have acted inappropriately does not address any underlying issues that may have led to the crimes in the first place. Instead, some offenders might require treatment rather than punishment. This could manifest in the form of counselling, harm reduction strategies or community service. Without treatment, the cycle of crime will continue unabated. The same strategies could apply to cases of violent extremism and terrorism.

There has also been no compelling evidence that death sentence or natural life imprisonment has succeeded in reducing the crime rate in Malaysia or globally. Instead, countries are increasingly embracing restorative justice methods in an effort to reduce crime.

While the death penalty continues to be in force in Malaysia, the abolition of the mandatory death penalty is a progressive step towards the total abolishment of death penalty in Malaysia.

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The author is a criminologist and Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Universiti Malaya. She may be reached at haezreena@um.edu.my

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