Contributed by Sumitha Shaanthinni Kishna, Assistant Director, Human Rights Committee; photos by Satha Selvan Subramaniam, Senior Administrative Assistant, and Mohamed Fazli Rosman, Administrative Assistant, Bar Council
The Malaysian Bar is a strong opponent of the mandatory death penalty and has frequently and consistently called upon the Malaysian Government to abolish the death penalty, and in the meantime put in place an immediate moratorium on its use pending its abolition.
In 2011, the Bar Council, the Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia, and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (“SUHAKAM”), embarked upon a long–term campaign for the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia. Between 2013 and 2014, the British High Commission, Embassy of Switzerland, Amnesty International and KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, joined the Coalition. The Coalition has organised public fora, university debates, stakeholder roundtables and meetings with government officials and parliamentarians.
As a precursor to the #AbolishDeathPenalty Campaign, the Coalition partners launched its social media campaign on 10 Oct 2016, with the hashtag #AbolishDeathPenalty, in conjunction with the World Day Against Death Penalty. A soft launch of the social media campaign was held by the Malaysian Bar at its International Malaysia Law Conference 2016 held in Kuala Lumpur from 21 to 23 Sept 2016.
On 19 Oct 2016, the Malaysian Bar along with its Coalition partners, and together with the Coalition for the Abolition of the Death Penalty in ASEAN (“CADPA”), launched the #AbolishDeathPenalty Campaign 2016 in conjunction with the recent World Day Against the Death Penalty on 10 Oct 2016. The launch took place in the morning at The Curve, Mutiara Damansara.
Karen Cheah gave the Opening Address followed by a speech from Daniel Awigra, the Indonesia Representative to CADPA. Shamini Darshni, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia, and HE Maria Castillo Fernandez, Ambassador – Designate and Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia, also delivered their speeches. HE Edmund Bon, Malaysia’s Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (“AICHR”) gave the Closing Address.
Toshi Kazama, a well–known photographer and anti–death penalty activist based in New York, whose work focuses on the value of human life and respect for fellow human beings, as seen through the eyes of the families of the victims and of executed inmates, gave a speech. He also held an exhibition of his photographs entitled “Eyes on Preciousness” at the launch.
The launch ended with photography sessions of attendees who are representatives of diplomatic missions, Members of the Bar, members of the Coalition, the public, and the media.