Sunday, November 15, 2015

MPs’ roundtable to push for death penalty abolition

Terence Netto

An international lobby composed of MPs will hold a roundtable discussion in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday to push for the abolishment of the death penalty.
The discussions will be headed by Culture and Tourism Minister Mohamed Nazri Aziz, with de facto Law Minister Nancy Shukri and attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali participating in sessions pertaining to offences that carry the death penalty.
Secretary of the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) Malaysia Group, M Kulasegaran, MP for Ipoh Barat, told Malaysiakini yesterday the roundtable was being held at an opportune moment because of the opinion aired by Apandi that the government is thinking of abolishing the mandatory death penalty requirement for offences such as murder, certain firearm offences, drug trafficking, and treason.
PGA is a network of more than 1,100 parliamentarians from 140 Parliaments across the world, who in their personal capacity, support international justice, rule of law, democracy, and human rights.
“PGA welcomes the intention of the AG to shift to discretionary the current mandatory stipulation on judges that they impose the death penalty with respect to certain offences,” said the Perak barrister.
“The roundtable will seek to fortify opinion that he should go the full distance and abolish capital punishment altogether,” he added.
Kulasegaran said that previous roundtables held by PGA, with Nazri Aziz in attendance, had obtained a consensus that Malaysia is headed towards abolishment of the death penalty.
“But there have been doubts about the advisability of this measure from sundry quarters within the country which of course is at variance to the thrust of global opinion which tends to regard capital punishment as obsolete and cruel,” he opined.
The roundtable discussions will see the participation of MPs from both sides of the political divide in Malaysia.
Also participating would be retired Court of Appeal Judge Mah Weng Kwai, president of the Malaysian Bar Steven Thiru, and Suhakam deputy chairperson Khaw Lake Tee.
Also, MPs from Australia, Britain and Switzerland will bring their expertise to bear, with the head of the European Union delegation to Malaysia, Luc Vandebon, also taking part.
Parvais Jabbar, the death penalty expert in the PGA project to abolish capital punishment, will render a global overview of the initiative.
Kulasegaran said past PGA-organised roundtables on the International Criminal Court and the Arms Trade Treaty in Malaysia have succeeded in raising public consciousness on the need for Malaysia to accede to both initiatives so that the country can be more fully integrated into the comity of nations for the rule of law and peace.

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