Death Sentence Ineffective as Deterrent

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The death sentence is seen to be ineffective as a deterrent in reducing the crime rate in the country, the Dewan Rakyat was told today.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said this was an outcome of a study conducted by I-CeLLS, the International Centre for Law and Legal Studies of Malaysia under the auspices of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

I-CeLLS had engaged the expertise of Emeritus Professor of Criminology Roger Hood of the University of Oxford for the research, he said.

The death sentence, once executed, cannot be reversed and there is also the risk of innocent people being sent to the gallows, he said during the Ministers’ Question Time in the House.

“There has been a case in Malaysia where an accused has been sentenced to death based on false evidence given by the key witness. Although the conviction was set aside because of the false evidence, the case is an example that the innocent can be sentenced to death,” he said.


Liew was replying to a question from Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) on the government justification to propose the abolition of the death sentence and whether a detailed study has been done with regard to the proposal.

The minister said the proposed abolition of the death sentence is also a Malaysian effort to comply with the international human rights norms.

Replying to a supplementary question from Wee on why there is a rush to get the death sentence abolished when he felt it is a deterrent against serious crimes, Liew reiterated that it was ineffective as a deterrent.

“In the many drug cases brought to court, the death sentence has not been a deterrent because many more have been caught for drug trafficking,” he said.

He also said that the abolition of the death sentence will not result in convicts being arbitrarily released because they will still have to serve out the appropriate sentence. 

Earlier report: Oct 10, An End to Death Penalty