Public opinion on the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, murder and firearms offences by Professor Robin Hood.
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The number of executions carried out in Malaysia has declined markedly in the last decade despite there being no changes in the scope of capital punishment in law or any reform of the system which mandates the dealth penalty as the only punishment for murder; for trafficking in narcotics in various amounts according to the drug concerned; and for discharging a firearm with intent to cause death or hurt while committing various crimes, whether or not any hurt is caused.
The decline in executions has been accompanied by a growing public debate on whether or not the death penalty should be abolished completely, either for all crimes or at least for drugs trafficking and firearms offences not leading to injury, or whether, as a frist step, the manadatory element should be replaced by a discretionary system to be used in exceptional circumstances. There is now an active anti-death penalty campaign in Malaysia.
This publication reports the findings from a public opinion survey, designed by the author, of the view of a representative quota sample of Malaysian citizens from every part of that country on the topical subject of the death penalty. The data was collected through face-to-face interviews with 1,535 Malaysians. The research was funded by a grant made to the Death Penalty Project by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office with the support of the Bar Council of Malaysia, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) and several other organisations.