Campaigners hail Malaysia’s move to abolish death penalty

Malaysian civil society and campaigners are rejoicing because of the Malaysian government’s move to abolish the death penalty in the country. (AP)
Updated 12 October 2018
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Campaigners hail Malaysia’s move to abolish death penalty

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian civil society and campaigners are rejoicing because of the Malaysian government’s move to abolish the death penalty in the country.
''All death penalties will be abolished. Full stop,” said Liew Vui Keong, the de-facto law minister.
He added that the Malaysian government would abolish all forms of death penalties in the country and a moratorium on all executions would be imposed. Currently there are more than 1,250 people on death row.
The bill for abolishing the death penalty will be tabled in the upcoming Parliament session, commencing on Oct. 15. If passed, Malaysia will be only the third country in Southeast Asia to abolish the death penalty. The first was Cambodia in 1989, while the Philippines followed in 2006. 
However, the move is seen as a step forward by the Pakatan Harapan government toward adopting a progressive policy in the ASEAN region. The fragility of the rule of law in most Southeast Asian countries would mean Malaysia might lead the way in abolishing capital punishment. 
“It’s welcome news for us,” Khaizan Sharizad told Arab News. Sharizad is a lawyer and filmmaker based in Kuala Lumpur; she recently made a film on the death penalty in Malaysia. “I hope that it will be passed in Parliament,” she said.
Sharizad personally does not believe that the death penalty is an effective tool for deterring crime. She said that the justice system is not perfect, and that mistakes can happen. “The punishment is irreversible if a person is found not guilty,” she added.
The announcement was also welcomed by the European Union delegation to Malaysia as the EU has been campaigning for the abolition since 2009. They partnered with the Malaysian Bar and the Malaysian Human Rights Commission in 2011 in a public campaign for abolition of the death penalty. 
“The EU considers capital punishment to be cruel and inhumane punishment, which does not deter crime more effectively than other punishments and represents an unacceptable denial of human dignity and integrity,” said a representative from the EU to Arab News. 
The president of the Malaysian Bar, George Varughese, wrote in a press statement that the Malaysian Bar “wholeheartedly welcomes” the Malaysian Cabinet decision. 
“We look forward to seeing the legislation being tabled and passed,” he wrote. 
The bar has long been a strong advocate and campaigner for the total abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia. “In a modern society, we must focus more on rehabilitation and restoration,” he wrote. 
Liew said that the Malaysian government was currently studying certain cases and reviewing the punishment. He added that his administration would inform the Pardon Board to investigate various applications for offenders on the death penalty waiting list to either be commuted or released.

 


Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

Updated 24 April 2019
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Japan apologizes to those forcibly sterilized, vows redress

  • An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996
  • The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time

TOKYO: Japan’s government apologized Wednesday to tens of thousands of victims forcibly sterilized under a now-defunct Eugenics Protection Law and promised to pay compensation.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said he was offering “sincere remorse and heartfelt apology” to the victims.
His apology comes just after the parliament enactment earlier Wednesday of legislation to provide redress measures, including $28,600 (¥3.2 million) compensation for each victim.
An estimated 25,000 people were given unconsented sterilization while the 1948 Eugenics Protection Law was in place until 1996. The law was designed to “prevent the birth of poor-quality descendants” and allowed doctors to sterilize people with disabilities. It was quietly renamed as the Maternity Protection Law in 1996, when the discriminatory condition was removed.
The redress legislation acknowledges that many people were forced to have operations to remove their reproductive organs or radiation treatment to get sterilized, causing them tremendous pain mentally and physically.
The government had until recently maintained the sterilizations were legal at the time.
The apology and the redress law follow a series of lawsuits by victims who came forward recently after breaking decades of silence. That prompted lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to draft a compensation package to make amends for the victims.
The plaintiffs are seeking about ¥30 million each ($268,000) in growing legal actions that are spreading around the country, saying the government’s implementation of the law violated the victims’ right to self-determination, reproductive health and equality. They say the government redress measures are too small for their suffering.
In addition to the forced sterilizations, more than 8,000 others were sterilized with consent, though likely under pressure, while nearly 60,000 women had abortions because of hereditary illnesses, according to Japan Federation of Bar Associations.
Among them were about 10,000 leprosy patients who had been confined in isolated institutions until 1996, when the leprosy prevention law was also abolished. The government has already offered compensation and an apology to them for its forced isolation policy.