More than 1,200 prisoners on death row get reprieve as Malaysia abolishes death penalty

“The death penalty is barbarous, and unimaginably cruel,” N. Surendran, an advisor with the Lawyers for Liberty rights group, said in a statement.

Once capital punishment is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences abroad, he added.

Only 23 countries retain the death penalty, with China believed to be the “world’s top executioner”, according to Amnesty International in its report last month on capital punishment in 2017.

There were 993 executions recorded in 2017 in 23 countries, but Amnesty’s numbers do not include the “thousands” it says are believed to have been executed in China, which classifies this information as a state secret.

Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan – in that order – carried out 84% of all executions in 2017.

In Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Singapore and Thailand have death penalty laws.

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