Amnesty, UN urge Malaysia to halt man's execution

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - The UN human rights body and Amnesty International called Thursday (March 24) for Malaysia to stay the execution of a convicted murderer at a time when the country is considering scrapping the death penalty.

The mother of Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu, a Malaysian, has been quoted by local media as saying authorities have indicated he would soon be executed, possibly as early as Friday.

He was convicted of the fatal stabbing of another man in 2005.

Malaysia does not announce planned executions.

"The authorities must step in to prevent this brutal act taking place before it is too late, and instead commute Gunasegar's death sentence," Amnesty International said in a statement.

Malaysian officials have indicated the government may review its application of the death penalty.

Amnesty said authorities should impose an immediate moratorium in the meantime.

The Southeast Asia office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights also urged a stay, adding it was "concerned by Malaysia's practice of carrying out executions in secret" with insufficient notice to families.

Around 900 people were on death row in Malaysia, officials have said in recent years, mostly drug offenders.

Since 1960, nearly 450 people had been executed, according to data released in 2011.

But activists say the pace of executions has slowed to nearly nothing in recent years.

In 2014, authorities halted plans to execute a Malaysian convicted murderer, Chandran Paskaran, after an outcry from rights groups.