Reprieve on the way for 119 Nigerians on death row in Malaysia | P.M. News

execution for trafficking

The 119 Nigerians on row in Malaysia be saved from the executioner if the country’s legislature passed a bill to abolish the death penalty as being proposed by the country’s Liew Vui Keong.

The minister plans to table the bill in the March 2020 sitting of Dewan Rakyat, Malaysia’s Lower of Parliament.

According to ’s latest report, Fatally Flawed: Why Malaysia must abolish the Death Penalty, 1,281 are on death row as of February 2019.

Foreigners make up a significant 44 percent, 568 people, with Nigerians accounting for 119. They were sentenced to death for drug trafficking.

“Nationals from made up 21 per cent of this group, with those from (16%), (15%), (10%), (8%) and (6%) following suit”, Amnesty said.

latest report: Nigerians on death row may get some reprieve

“A significant 73 per cent of those under sentence of death have been convicted of drug trafficking under Section 39(b) of the Dangerous of , 1952 — an extremely high figure for an offence that does not even meet the threshold of the ‘most ’ under international law and standards and for which the death penalty must not be imposed,” said in the report.

The Nigerians have not been executed because of a moratorium on executions in place since October 2018 as the mulls law reform.

A special led by immediate past justice Richard Malanjum has also been set up to study alternative penalties for laws carrying mandatory .

Amnesty report points at various flaws in the Malaysian legal system, including denial of complete legal to foreigners.

Amnesty also said that insufficient funding of legal aid also hinders Malaysians from accessing proper , especially those who live in rural areas and who are not able to afford a .

“It is further concerning that because of how legal aid is structured in the different schemes that provide no free legal representatives until the is due to start, many defendants are left awaiting without any legal assistance for significant periods that have extended from months to, in most cases, two to five years,” the report read.

For foreign nationals, the report noted delays of more than to several days before their respective embassies were informed of their arrests. This is despite international law which states that prompt is necessary.

Amnesty, which campaigns to end to capital punishment worldwide, called for competent legal representation be made available to all defendants.

It also called upon the to inform all detainees of their right to legal aid.

‘Secretive’ pardons, executions

Aside from the pre and post-trial stages, gaps in legal aid also affected the ability of inmates to acquire assistance when filing their petitions, noted Amnesty.

When it was available, the report cited a lawyer’s testimony about how officials pre-selected inmates who would be able to receive legal aid, all of whom were Malaysians.

“The decision on who gets that is not transparent and creates an additional degree of arbitrariness and in the death penalty system,” it said.

The further urged the government to solve the delays and lack of in clemency proceedings.

Pardons can only be granted by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and the state rulers after consulting the Pardons Board. , clear procedures for them are not laid out in Malaysian law except for some guidelines in the Prison Regulations 2000.

In practice, the report noted that inmates are often informed of their right to clemency but not the criteria for pardon consideration.

Inmates and their families are often left without any from the authorities for a period after submitting their petition.

The report also noted instances of delays by prison authorities in communicating the result of a pardon petition to an inmate’s .

In the case of rejected clemency petitions, Amnesty noted that families were not informed of the date and of impending executions except that they would happen “soon”.

“Some of the letters handed over to the families were dated two weeks , suggesting that the prison authorities had held on to this until only days before the scheduled date of the hangings,” it said.

Amnesty urged Pardon Boards to disclose all relevant information to inmates to allow them to prepare adequately for the pardon petitions.

It also wanted the boards to promptly update inmates, their families and their on the progress of their .

Following objections to abolishing the death penalty in total, the Pakatan Harapan government is looking at replacing the mandatory death penalty for 11 serious criminal offences to allow for judicial discretion.

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