The Straits Times
www.straitstimes.com
Published on Oct 25, 2012
 

Death knell for death penalty in Malaysia?

Malaysian government considering removing capital punishment for drug offences

 
 

KUALA LUMPUR - As soon as the plane hits the runway in Malaysia, a flight attendant's cheery voice greets passengers with a warm welcome. Then comes the not-so-cheery part: a warning that there is a mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking.

Now a minister says the government is considering removing the death sentence for drug offences, offering a glimmer of hope to lawyers and civil liberties groups who have campaigned for years against capital punishment.

On Wednesday, de facto law minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said he will submit a proposal to the Cabinet to defer the death sentences passed on 675 convicted drug traffickers in the country, while the government reviews the death penalty for drug offences.

The majority of drug trafficking arrests are of low-ranking "drug mules" - smugglers working for drug syndicates - who are more visible and easily apprehended. Drug kingpins are rarely caught and simply hire more mules.