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Malaysia

Barometer

Retentionist
Country status
1355
Sentenced
0
Execution(s)
14+
Conviction(s)
Figures for 2021. The last execution in Malaysia took place in 2017.

Our partners in the field

ECPM has been working in Malaysia since 2008 to support and bring together the various abolitionist stakeholders. Since 2017, ECPM has been running a project in partnership with ADPAN, the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network, to galvanise collective action and advocacy with national authorities for abolition through the organisation of conferences, workshops and awareness raising events. The project also aims to train lawyers representing those facing the death penalty and to strengthen their case strategies.

The situation of prisoners on death row

Despite the declaration of a moratorium on executions in July 2018, courts continue to hand down death sentences. The number of people on death row increased between 2018 and 2020. During a parliamentary enquiry conducted in June 2020, the Department of Prisons reported that there were 1,314 death row prisoners in Malaysian prisons, 33 more than in October 2018.

Cover of the report of the fact-finding mission “Isolation and Desolation”, published in 2020.

Under Malaysian law, death row prisoners are held in prolonged isolation. These conditions and treatment have been described as degrading and inhuman, even tantamount to torture, by both the UN Human Rights Committee and the Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

“I am old, and I do not have much time to live. I just wish that we could have information about the clemency process.”

Rina, mother of a man detained since 2003, during the fact-finding mission “Isolation and Desolation” (2020)

Death row prisoners spend 23 hours a day in their cells. Relatives can either visit for 45 minutes once a week, or send them a letter, but they are not allowed to do both. In some facilities, prisoners spend their statutory 45 minutes outside their cells in a hall, without the fresh air they could get from outdoor activities. There are no activities except for a few interventions by religious organisations. The language barrier compounds the isolation of foreign prisoners, who make up 41% of those on death row: discussions with religious counsellors are often exclusively in Malay, and foreign language books are not allowed.

Interview with Suzana Norlihan, Malaysian lawyer and sister of a death row prisoner.
Kasthuri Patto, a member of Parliament in Malaysia, discusses the prospects for abolition in Malaysia and why governments should be more accountable in relation to the death penalty.

All reports

Conditions of detention
Isolation and desolation: conditions of detention of people sentenced to death, Malaysia
Oct 2022
Human Rights Protection Mechanisms
Malaysia 31st session of the working group on the universal periodic review November 2018
Oct 2022

All tools

Map – death penalty in Asia 2021

All news

Poster Abolition Now Tour
In the field
#AbolitionNowTour : The Youth Stands Against the Death Penalty
24 February 2022
ECPM is glad to introduce an unprecedented experience! In the framework of the 8th World Congress Against the Death Penalty, due in Berlin in November 2022, ECPM just wrapped up the #AbolitionNowTour: a unique mobilization programe intended for young people from Africa, Asia, the Middle-East and North America. The project targetted 6 countries…
Pannir's picture a sentenced to death in Malaysia
Editorial / opinion page, Testimony
Interview: “Pannir’s case has the potential to change the general public’s opinion towards the death penalty”
15 February 2022
poster Aran Tuju malaysian pop star who sing for a sentenced to death
Editorial / opinion page
In Malaysia, a pop star sings the words of a death row prisoner
17 April 2021
Pannir writes, Santesh sings; both are Malaysian and have almost the same age (33 and 32). But one is on death row in Changi Prison (Singapore), while the other is an M-pop (Malaysian pop) star. In his third album, “Arah Tuju”, launched in Malaysia on 17 April, the artist sings…
cover publication
Publication
The process of abolishing the death penalty in member states of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)
26 November 2020
As the 47th session of the Council of Foreign Ministers organised by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is being held in Niamey, Niger, on 27 and 28 November 2020, ECPM and Nael Georges publish the study The process of abolishing the death penalty in member states of the Organisation…
Logo Indonesian ngo
In the field
Launch of a small grants programme in Indonesia and Malaysia
23 October 2020
ECPM, along with its partners ADPAN and KontraS, is launching its small grants programme for 2021 in Indonesia and Malaysia. Two projects by country, running 3 to 12 months from January 2021 and based outside the capitals, will be selected. The application deadline is 22 November 2020. General objective of these calls : providing support…
Editorial / opinion page
Malaysian parliamentarian Kasthuri Patto addresses the media on World Day Against the Death Penalty
10 October 2019
Kasthuri Patto, a convinced abolitionist and parliamentarian in Malaysia, addresses the media around the world to report on the situation of the death penalty in her country. With the arrival of the Pakatan Harapan government last year, the parliamentarian welcomes the fact that abolition has never been so close. The…
Editorial / opinion page
Malaysia: a model path towards abolition [video]
23 January 2019
“Malaysia must become the Tiger of Asia”, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the United Nations General Assembly in late 2018. A “Tiger” who, last year, in just a few months, made an impression with his determination to abolish the death penalty step by step in a region surrounded by…
Editorial / opinion page, In the field
Malaysia: a model path towards abolition [video]
23 January 2019
“Malaysia must become the Tiger of Asia”, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told the United Nations General Assembly in late 2018. A “Tiger” who, last year, in just a few months, made an impression with his determination to abolish the death penalty step by step in a region surrounded by…