PETALING JAYA: Suaram today called on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Nazri Aziz to make a firm stand on the death penalty.
It said he can’t have it both ways and callled his flip-flop stand “the ultimate denial of human rights”.
“On March 1, Nazri stated that he wanted the death penalty to be abolished and called for a mass movement of people to oppose the death penalty.
“However, yesterday, the minister insisted that Malaysia still needs this punishment as a deterrent for serious crimes,” said Suaram’s executive director E Nalini in a statement.
She was commenting on Nazri Aziz’s defence on the use of death penalty in response to a question raised by Bukit Gelugor MP, Karpal Singh in parliament yesterday.
Nazri had insisted that Malaysia still needed death penalty as a deterrent to to serious crime.
He added that the removal of the sentence would only be considered after a thorough review is conducted since its abolishment would have a major impact on the legal system.
Earlier this month Nazri called himself a “knight in armour” who is all for abolishing the death penalty and wanted a mass movement to end the sentence.
Pakatan MPs too supported the motion to end the death sentence.
International human rights organisation, Amnesty International and the Bar Council meanwhile were much more optimistic that Malaysia would eventually repeal the penalty.
Minister should convince the cabinet
Bar Council chairman Lim Chee Wee said: “It is safe to say that the statements were made by Nazri on behalf of the federal government.”
Lim’s confidence comes from the fact that Nazri has privately and publicly declared his personal view in support for the abolishment of the death penalty.
He added that Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail is also personally supportive for the repeal.
Lim also urged Nazri to persuade the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s administration to immediately move towards a moratorium and subsequently repeal the death sentence.
“The minister has been saying that the relevant civil societies and the Bar bear the burden of changing the hearts and minds of the perceived majority of Malaysians who favour the retention of the death penalty.
“However, we appeal to the minister to utilise his legal training and powers of advocacy to persuade the Cabinet and Najib to move towards abolition,” said Lim in a statement .
Amnesty International’s executive director Nora Murat too is confident that the government would review the death penalty.
“However the government needs to restrict the definition of serious crime. The United Nations Human Rights Commission and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights restricts it to crimes directly related to death,” said Nora.