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Malaysia: Four young men sentenced to death for cannabis in the past months

In the past months, four young men have been sentenced to death for relatively modest charges on cannabis in Malaysia.

ENCOD has sent the following letter to Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia and the Chair of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.

Please do not hesitate to copy the letter, sign it in your name and send it, click here  for the addresses.

You can also send it as a readers letter to the Malaysian newspaper Bername: zukiman@bernama.com

Best wishes


Antwerpen, 9 October 2009

Dear Prime Minister,

Dear Chair Human Rights Commission,

As a European coalition of NGO’s and individuals concerned with the global drug issue, we would like to inform you herewith of our deepest concerns about the confirmation of several death sentences in your country recently.

On August 27, Khairul Idzham was sentenced to death for trafficking 4,3 kilos of cannabis five years ago.

On September 2, Lim Kok Yong, 35 years old, was sentenced to be hanged until death after finding him guilty of trafficking 625.7 grammes of cannabis, five years ago.

On September 4, Khalil Anuar Sukirman, 25 years old, was sentenced to death after he was found guilty of trafficking over 1kg of cannabis three years ago.

On September 30, Indonesian Nasir Ibrahim, 31 years old, was given the death sentence after he was found guilty of trafficking 868gm cannabis more than five years ago.

The use of the death penalty as such runs counter to the universal protection of human rights and is at odds with the international trend away from the use of this measure. Very few countries currently carry out executions: provisional figures compiled by Amnesty International indicate that only 20 of the United Nation’s 193 member states carried out state killings in 2006. In countries such as South Korea and Taiwan, authorities are considering to abolish this measure. We hope that this will soon be the case in Malaysia as well.

However, in these particular cases, we believe there is no valid argument whatsoever to carry out this punishment, and urge you to do whatever is possible to reverse the sentence.

We are aware of the argument of your government for maintaining the death penalty for drug traffickers, because drugs cause misery in Malaysian society. To this we would like to say that in spite of executions of drug traffickers in Malaysia, the country is not and will never be drug-free. Many people in Malaysia want to consume cannabis and other drugs, so it is obvious that other people will supply them. Taking the life of people will not change that situation.

Drugs trafficking is the core business of globally organised criminal organisations. The traffickers who are occasionally caught by authorities with relatively small amounts do not have major responsibilities in this business. Killing them will not scare the drugs gangs away. On the contrary, it is possible that thanks to these punishments, the drugs barons can continue to justify extraordinary high prices for their goods.

On the other hand, cannabis is a natural product, a non-lethal substance. Its consumption is widespread around the world, as it has been for thousands of years among many different cultures and people. In most European countries, cannabis possession for personal consumption is not even penalised anymore. In the coming years, we expect major law changes that will allow for the cultivation and distribution of cannabis to adults in several European countries.

ENCOD strongly believes that the drugs problem can only be reduced by effective social and health policies, not by legal sanctions. Innovative strategies for addressing the issue both globally and locally are needed, and the harsh implementation of drug prohibition is a major impediment to thee introduction of these strategies. The reinforcement of policies that have failed until now will increase the lack of credibility of authorities in the opinion of the general public.

We call upon your wisdom to apply principles of sound governance and reverse the death sentence for the people mentioned above. If you believe that Malaysia needs to execute drug traffickers to please the international community, this is a huge mistake. We offer you our co-operation in order to convince European governments to support Malaysia in the creation of structures which would allow for the reduction of harm that the production, trade and consumption of illicit drugs can cause.

Sincerely yours,

On behalf of ENCOD,

Marisa Felicissimo, Belgium
Fredrick Polak, The Netherlands
Jorge Roque, Portugal
Antonio Escobar, Spain


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