Capital punishment – a matter of life and death

ON September 3, Muhammad Hafizul Rashid Emmy, 29, broke down in tears when the Kuala Lumpur High Court sentenced him to death by hanging after convicting him of smuggling 299.09g of cannabis into the country. three years ago.

Following this heartbreaking news, social media users are calling for the abolition of this arbitrary, immoral and barbaric punishment – the death penalty – in Malaysia. They are of the opinion that such taking of human life is no longer relevant in today’s world.

The death penalty has its beginnings in primitive societies which were reflected in the old legal systems. Many countries around the world today, including Malaysia and Singapore, have laws that specifically state that certain offenses are death penalty offenses for which the penalty is the death penalty.

Deterrence of Crime and Fair Retribution

Since life is a priori man’s most precious possession, the threat that his life will be taken from him if he commits certain acts is the best deterrent against the commission of these acts. The theory of deterrence clearly states that the purpose of the death penalty is to sow terror in the heart of a wrongdoer, so that he can regain his sanity and learn to obey the law in the future.

The death penalty has traditionally been justified on retributivist grounds. Retributive justice is a system of justice in which the criminal is punished in proportion to the moral scale of the crimes. In other words, heinous crimes or those which generate more moral outrage are punished with more severe penalties. If there are moral monsters living among us who are unable to control their savagery and violence, it is better for the welfare of society that they be forced to pay the ultimate price for their evil deeds.

Retribution has its basis in religious values, which have historically held that it is appropriate to take “an eye for an eye” and “a life for a life” (Holy Bible, Exodus 21:23). We can find death sentences for crimes in the Babylonian legal text, the Hammurabi Code (Babylonian legal text) and the Quran.

It is important to keep in mind that fair retribution is not unjust provided that the accused has benefited from due process, that the wrongdoing is serious and that there are other guarantees such as call, grace and review.

Public support for the death penalty

The London-based Death Penalty Project and the Malaysian Bar have published a public opinion survey on the mandatory death penalty, reaching a representative sample of over 1,500 Malaysians. They are overwhelmingly in favor of the death penalty, whether mandatory or discretionary: 91% for murder, 74% to 80% for drug trafficking depending on the drug concerned, and 83% for firearms, the main motive. in support of death. the penalty was retribution.

The death penalty is constitutional

Malaysian courts, on the other hand, while interpreting the right to life under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution, have ruled that the death penalty itself is constitutional, provided it is recognized by law. The courts upheld the death sentences for drug trafficking and possession of firearms in Ong Ah Chuan v. PP [1981] AC 648 and PP against Lau Kee Hoo [1983] 1 MLJ 157 respectively.

The sword of justice hangs over everything, it is powerful only as long as it is suspended; it is almost useless once fallen. The existence of death sentences for crimes such as murder underscores society’s aversion to the offense and reaffirms the belief in the sanctity of human life. As the total abolition of the death penalty is not a jus cogens standard, Malaysia is not legally bound to abolish the death penalty.

Society must be educated about the serious consequences of drug addiction in order to strengthen the deterrent effect of the death penalty. People need to be exposed to the way diehard drug addicts experience their deplorable state of existence. There should be more public sentiment and awareness of executions when they take place. As it stands, the execution of a convicted felon in our prisons does not attract more media attention than a few short lines. – September 8, 2021.

* Julian Ong Qi Xuan reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the author or post and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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