Malaysia repeals mandatory death penalty for serious crimestext_fields
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia will no longer implement the mandatory death penalty for a number of serious offences starting from Tuesday onwards.
The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 was gazetted on June 30 and signed by Minister in the Department for Law and Institutional Reform Azalina Othman Said, with the date of implementation set for July 4, according to a statement on the Malaysia Federal Legislation website.
According to the Minister, the new laws will affect about 1,340 prisoners currently on death row and over 100 serving natural life sentences, including 840 death row prisoners who have exhausted all appeals.
More than a third of death row prisoners are foreign nationals.
The offences include drug trafficking, murder, treason and kidnapping, with judges previously having to apply the mandatory death penalty as punishment, reports Xinhua news agency.
With the new law, judges presiding over cases that call for the mandatory death sentence will now have the discretion of imposing alternative penalties such as a new alternative jail term of 30 to 40 years.
Malaysia has enforced a moratorium on executions since 2018, but as legislation carrying the mandatory death penalty has remained effective, the courts have been bound to continue sentencing defendants to death despite no executions being carried out since 2017.
According to Human Rights Watch, Malaysia has maintained a de facto moratorium on executions since 2018, having last carried out a death sentence by hanging in 2017.
Malaysia was one of only 11 countries that imposed the death penalty for drug-related offences in 2021.
With inputs from agencies