Tuesday, March 19, 2019

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well it were done quickly" Macbeth

In a news item referring to the Lukman case on September 18 of last year, subject of an earlier posting on this website, Prime Minister Mahathir, obviously speaking fom the viewpoint of his earlier intention to totally abolish the death penalty, expressed a readiness to review the case. Words blowing in the wind, in the about turn recently reported and subject of the previous posting.
"Kuala Lumpur: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir has indicated that the government should review the case of a man who had been sentenced to death for having medicinal cannabis oil.
Dr Mahathir said: " I think we should review that," when asked about the case of Muhammad Lukman, a 29-year-old father of one who was sentenced to death for possessing, processing and distributing medical marijuana (cannabis oil).
He was arrested in 2015 for the possession of 3.1 litres of cannabis oil, 279 grams of compressed cannabis and 1.4kg of substance containing tetrahydrocan nabininaol (THC). Muhammad Lukman was given the death sentence by the Shah Alam High Court on Aug 30preme light.” The Star/2018/09/18

However, Prime Minister Mahathir, while retaining Malaysia's attachment to the death penalty, you can invoke “General comment No. 36 (2018) on Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on the right to life”. 
The document urges strict observance conditions in international law on imposing executions, emphasising that the "right to life" is the supreme right from which no derogation is permitted by situations of armed conflict or other public emergencies. The consequence is that in states which have not yet abolished the death penalty, "it must not be applied except for the most serious crimes, and then only in the most exceptional cases and under the strictest limits."

Voila! No need to go through a delay prone constitutional change Apply this criterion to the Lukman case, prohibiting his execution and ordering his release. Leave it to the dogs of war who have forced retention of the death penalty on you to invalidate the triple legal bond in the above quotation from the authoritative comment on your binding international UN ICCPR treaty.
 "But screw your courage to the sticking place, and we'll not fail"  Lady Macbeth

Monday, March 18, 2019

"The native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought" Hamlet

"Malaysians against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) is saddened by the alleged U-turn by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his cabinet members who had decided earlier to abolish the death penalty, but now will apparently only abolish the mandatory death penalty.

On March 13, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohamed Hanipa Maidin was reported as saying in Parliament that only the mandatory death penalty, which is the penalty for nine offences under the Penal Code and two under the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, will be repealed.

It must be noted that the cabinet under Mahathir had, at a meeting in October 2018, decided to repeal not just the mandatory death penalty, but the death penalty for 33 offences under eight acts.

“The cabinet has decided to abolish the death penalty, and it will be tabled in the next Parliament sitting, which will begin on Oct 15, said Liew Vui Keong (Minister in charge of law in the Prime Minister’s Department)… ‘All death penalties will be abolished. Full stop.’”

This decision was applauded worldwide, and even celebrated at the recent 7th World Congress Against the Death Penalty in Brussels, which also highlighted the United Nations General Assembly’s seventh resolution for the moratorium on executions pending abolition that was adopted on Dec 17, 2018, with 121 countries in favour of it, including Malaysia for the very first time.

Abolition of the death penalty usually occurs as the end point of long process and depends on the firm decision of a leader endowed with strong conviction and courage. The ancient curse of vengence,  the "law of the talon" is deeply embedded in our conscience and cultures; the transit to abolitionis is always contended. We are not informed of the hidden opposition and failure of Malaysia's prime minister to carry through his promise. We must wait another day, another leader. A great opportunity has been lost. The Philippines dithers, Thailand threw away the opportunity in the final year of the observance of a declared moratorium which would have achieved de facto abolition.
One may salute Timor Leste which achieved independence in 17 years of struggle, and proudly declared rejection of the death penalty in its founding constitution.