Malaysia marked World Day Against the Death Penalty this week by saying the country will abolish capital punishment.
Oct. 10 was first established as World Day Against the Death Penalty by a coalition of nongovernmental organizations that lobbies countries to stop executing prisoners.
Guinea and Mongolia abolished capital punishment for all crimes last year. Guatemala made it illegal to execute someone for civil offenses.
In 2017, 993 executions were reported in 23 countries, a figure that does not includes thousands of secret executions China is estimated to conduct each year.
Malaysis got a new primer minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad, in May. On Wednesday, law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong declared that “all death penalty will be abolished — full stop.”
“We will inform the Pardons Board to look into various applications for convicts on the (death penalty) waiting list to either be commuted or released,” he said.
More than 1,200 people are on death row in the country, which has had capital punishment for terrorism, murder, kidnapping, treason and drug trafficking.
The changes are expected to be presented to parliament on Monday when the legislative body begins its new session. “In Malaysia death row prisoners are often cruelly kept in the dark about the outcome of their clemency applications and notified of their executions just days or hours before they happen,” said Amnesty International Secretary General Kumi Naidoo. “With a bill on abolition set to be tabled next week, we are calling on the Malaysian Parliament to completely abolish the death penalty for all crimes, with no exceptions.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “commends this decision as a major step forward in a global movement towards the universal abolition of the death penalty,” said spokesman Stephane Dujarric. “The secretary-general seizes this opportunity to call on all countries which still retain it to follow the encouraging example of Malaysia.”