The Malaysian Bar is heartened by, and welcomes, the stay of execution of the death penalty on Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon (aka Philip Michael), originally scheduled for 6:00 am today.
The Malaysian Bar commends the swift action of the Government, and in particular the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, YB Puan Hajah Nancy Shukri, and the Honourable Attorney General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, in obtaining a stay of the execution.
The execution of a criminal, albeit for a heinous crime, is not so much about his crime, but is about, and reflective of, our own humanity.
Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon is reported to have been convicted on a charge of murder, and has been on death row for 18 years. He is said to be suffering from mental illness, namely schizophrenia. He apparently did not apply for clemency, possibly because he was unable to make proper decisions as a result of his mental illness.
Although it is reported that his mental illness developed after the commission of the crime, it is nevertheless unnecessary and unmerciful to kill a mentally ill person who has already been in jail for 18 years. We ask that his death sentence be commuted to one of life imprisonment.
The Malaysian Bar advocates the abolition of the death penalty, in the belief that every individual has an inherent right to life. This right is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that may have been committed. The death penalty has no place in a society that values human life, justice and mercy.
We understand that the Government is currently looking into law reforms in respect of the mandatory death penalty, with a view to its possible abolition or the reintroduction of a discretionary death penalty. In light of such review, the Government should, in the interest of justice, implement and announce an immediate official moratorium on any and all executions of the death sentence.
The Malaysian Bar reiterates its call on the Malaysian Government to abolish the death penalty without delay. Those who have been sentenced with the death penalty should all be resentenced.
14 March 2014