Human rights organization Amnesty International has urged the government of Malaysia to stop the execution of prisoners due to be hanged on Friday.
Amnesty reports that in addition to Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s scheduled execution on Friday, his two co-defendants – brothers J Ramesh and Sasivarnam A/ L Jayakumar – are also set to be hanged tomorrow for murder.
When Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s mother went this morning to Taiping Prison to visit her son for the last time and make arrangements for his funeral, family members of his co-defendants were also present for the same reason.
All three prisoners were sentenced to the mandatory death penalty, which gives no discretion to judges to decide on whether the circumstances of a case warrant hanging or imprisonment as punishment.
The Malaysian government must halt the execution of a 34-year-old man due to be hanged this Friday for murder, said Amnesty International.
Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu was convicted of murder, an offence which attracts the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia.
“Executing Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu would be a regressive step for human rights in Malaysia,” said Josef Benedict, Amnesty International’s deputy campaign director for South-East Asia and the Pacific.
“The mandatory death penalty is a clear breach of human rights regardless of the crime committed. The authorities must step in to prevent this brutal act taking place before it is too late, and instead commute Gunasegar’s death sentence.”
Amnesty has consistently criticized Malaysia’s practice of “secretive” executions. Information on scheduled hangings is not made public before, or even after, they are carried out – contrary to international standards on the use of the death penalty.
Instead, Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu’s mother Nagarani Sandasamy today received a letter from Taiping Prison officials informing her that he will be executed “soon” and advising her to visit him tomorrow morning. The family was also advised to discuss arrangements to claim the prisoner’s body for his funeral.
Nagarani Sandasamy last visited her son a week ago, when neither were aware that the 34-year-old was scheduled to be hanged just a week later.
Gunasegar Pitchaymuthu was sentenced to death for the fatal stabbing of a man in Sungai Petani, Kedah state, on 16 April 2005.
International law and standards prohibit the mandatory imposition of the death penalty as constituting arbitrary deprivation of life, as it denies judges the possibility of taking into account the defendant’s personal circumstances or the circumstances of the particular offence.
Photo courtesy: Amnesty International