Malaysiakini NEWS

Amnesty condemns execution of man convicted for Canny Ong's murder

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Amnesty International condemned the quiet execution of Ahmad Najib Aris, who was earlier today hanged after spending 13 years on death row for the rape and murder of Canny Ong Lay Kian.

“The death penalty is never an answer. Hanging a man for murder is not justice, it is revenge.

"We oppose the use of capital punishment regardless of the crime committed,” Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said in a statement today.

Shamini said that while international law allows for the death penalty to be meted out for the most serious crimes, the lack of transparency on the use of the death penalty in Malaysia raises crucial concerns.

“International law and standards require that in countries which have yet to abolish the death penalty, the authorities must ensure that prisoners under the sentence of death and their families are given reasonable advance notice of the scheduled date and time of the executions.

"From Amnesty International Malaysia’s experience in dealing with imminent executions, families are only informed between 72 and 24 hours before.

"Also of concern is the authorities deliberately concealing or minimising public scrutiny over imminent executions," she said.

Shamini said transparency in the use of the death penalty is important to avoid aggravating mental trauma of prisoners sentenced to death and is also a critical safeguard against unlawful executions.

"International standards on the use of the death penalty also set out that condemned prisoners and their lawyers be officially informed of the date of execution in sufficient time to take any further recourse available at the national or international level.

"However, we understand that lawyers in Malaysia are not informed of impending executions of their clients as case proceedings would have concluded,” she said.

Due to the lack of transparency, Shamini said there were possibility of more executions which have not been disclosed by the authorities.

Shamini added that there is no convincing evidence to support the argument that death penalty can prevent crimes more effectively compared to other punishments including life imprisonment.

"Further, statistics from countries which have abolished the death penalty show that the absence of the death penalty has not resulted in an increase in the crimes previously subject to capital punishment.

"Amnesty International Malaysia does not downplay the seriousness of crimes committed, but we urge the authorities to consider introducing more effective crime prevention measures especially when there is overwhelming evidence that proves that the death penalty does not deter crime," she said.

In 2003, then 27-year-old Ong's charred body was found in a hole, below two cement-filled tyres were found four days after her kidnap.

Forensic investigation led to the arrest of Ahmad Najib, also 27-years-old at that time, who had raped her before killing her by stabbing her twice.

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