Human Rights Groups Denounce Malaysia for Hanging Murderers

Human Rights Groups Denounce Malaysia for Hanging Murderers
Photo Credit:Masayuki (Yuki) Kawagishi@Flickr CC BY 2.0

What you need to know

As the decapitation of a toddler in Taiwan yesterday angers the public and heats discussion over the death penalty again, Amnesty International has denounced the execution of three men in Malaysia. The Malaysian judicial officials hanged three men to death only two days after informing their families, which was condemned by the Amnesty International for overlooking human rights and adequate process in the legal system.

Translated and compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

Arguments regarding abolishing the death penalty have aroused again in Taiwan due to the random decapitation of a four-year-old girl yesterday. Meanwhile, Amnesty International and other human rights groups have condemned the execution of three Malaysians that was carried out last week.

On March 25, three Malaysian men were hanged to death for a murder they committed in 2005. The government informed the criminals’ families on March 23 to visit the prisoners without stating the exact execution time. Officials performed the execution only two days after notifying their families.

Amnesty International (AI), a worldwide human rights organization, issued a statement condemning such move for lacking due process, the fair treatment through the normal judicial system. Many other human rights groups were also shocked.

The decade-old murder case

The three men that committed the murder in 2005 include Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu, 35, Ramesh Jayakumar, 34, and Sasivarnam Jayakumar, 37.

On April 4, 2005, they murdered B Venukumar, a 25-year-old man, in a playground. Witnesses told the court that two of the criminals were armed with knives and the other one hit the victim with a crashed helmet. They chased after the victim after stabbing him more than three times until he fell and kept stabbing the deceased to death.

All three accused were sentenced to death in 2011.

11 years after the crime took place, the Malaysian government conducted the impending executions last week.

Malaysia Kini reports, on March 23, the families of the criminals received a letter from the Taiping Prison’s Department telling them to visit the three since they would soon be executed. The letter did not give any specific information on when exactly the criminals would be hanged. It obscurely expressed the time of the executions by using the word “soon,” and advised the families to pre-arrange for the body of three condemned prisoners.

Two days after the notice, at about 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., the prisoners were hanged to death.

Campaigns Director of AI says the move brings “shame on Malaysia”

According to a survey conducted by Roger Hood, an Oxford University’s professor, in recent years, more than 1,500 Malaysian were asked about their opinion towards the capital punishment. Results shows that more than 90% of the citizens still support the death penalty.

Nancy Shukri, minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department, announced last November that certain law reformation regarding the mandatory death penalty would be discussed in Parliament this March.

While some activists are in the process of promoting the abolishment of the death penalty, Malaysian officials do not seem to agree with such point of view. Since 1998, the Malaysian government has executed 33 criminals.

Josef Benedict, Campaigns Director of the Amnesty International in Southeast Asia and the Pacific, depicts the execution as “a deeply sad development and an unspeakably brutal act that brings shame upon Malaysia.” He further points out neither the family nor the prisoners had a clue, and they were reported to be rejected final visits, which is in conflict with the government’s active discussions upon the capital punishment.

“These hangings are a sickening reminder that the Malaysian authorities must redouble their efforts to establish a moratorium on executions as a first step towards abolition of the death penalty,” says Benedict.

Malaysia’s “secretive” execution system

The execution system in Malaysia has long been condemned to be “secretive.” The process is considered contrary to international standards and lacks due process.

Malaysian authorities seldom make clear announcements before executions. The prisoners and their families are usually informed at the last minute before the death sentences are carried out. While oftenly the executions are implemented on Friday mornings, people still lack information and have difficulties in guessing the possible timing.

On March 24, Malaysians Against Death Penalty & Torture (MADPET) posted on its website calling to stop the “possible execution on Friday.”

“We also calls for a moratorium on all executions pending abolition, and also for the commutation of sentence of all persons on death row, “ writes the post.

Edited by Olivia Yang

“Malaysia hangs three men for murder in ‘secretive’ execution" (The Guardian)
“AI Condemns Execution of Three Prisoners in Malaysia" (Latin American Herald Tribune)
“Execution of three men in Malaysia" (Amnesty International USA)
“Stop possible ‘Good Friday’ execution of Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu" (malaysiakini)
“Malaysian popular support for mandatory death penalty overstated" (World Coalition)