Malaysia hailed over plans to abolish death penalty

Indonesian Siti Aisyah left and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong right escorted by police as they leave a court hearing in Shah Alam Malaysia

Indonesian Siti Aisyah left and Vietnamese Doan Thi Huong right escorted by police as they leave a court hearing in Shah Alam Malaysia

On Wednesday, Liew Vui Keong, the minister in charge of law, said the cabinet had chose to repeal the death penalty.

The Malaysian government has made a decision to abolish the death penalty and a proposed Bill is expected to be tabled at the next parliament sitting, local media reported on Wednesday (Oct 10).

Malaysia has announced plans for a new bill that could abolish the death penalty within weeks and bring in a moratorium on executions effective immediately, a move that could save a Sydney grandmother now facing execution for drug charges.

The African Christian Democratic Party has promoted capital punishment as part of its policy.

When someone is sentenced to death, the head of state automatically receives a report on each case and can either commute the sentence to another punishment, pardon the offender, or set the time and place for the execution.

More than 1,200 people are on death row in Malaysia, which mandates hanging as punishment for a wide range of crimes including murder, kidnapping, drug trafficking and treason, among others.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, Andrew Gilmour, had echoed Mr Guterres concerns.

The government's announcement was "an encouraging sign", Amnesty International's Kumi Naidoo said in a statement. Amnesty International said it was "a major step forward for all those who have campaigned for an end to the death penalty in Malaysia".

Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, left, and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia could face the death penalty of convicted of the murder of Kim Jong-Nam.

Malaysia's cabinet has agreed to abolish the death penalty and halt pending executions, a move that has been hailed by global human rights groups and foreign diplomats.

The UN chief argued that legal representation or transparent criminal proceedings might have spared them from the death penalty.

Earlier in his opening speech, Liew said the Pakatan Harapan government is also mulling a repeal of the Sedition Act 1948 and other draconian laws.

Once capital punishment is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences overseas, he added.

To date, 142 countries have abolished the death penalty in law or practice.

Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan - in that order - carried out 84 per cent of all executions in 2017.