Malaysia’s decision is a “big step forward” but the abolition of the death penalty should be taken as “universal,” the UN Secretary-General said in a statement released today in New York.
“I take this opportunity to call on all countries that keep [capital punishment] to follow the encouraging example of Malaysia,” he said.
On Thursday, the Malaysian government said it would abolish the death penalty in the country, where capital punishment, by hanging, is provided by law for a range of crimes, including murder, kidnapping, possession of arms and drug trafficking.
The Supreme Court of the United States of Washington also ruled on Thursday that the death penalty, as it has been adopted, violates its Constitution and will no longer be applied.
In a written statement, Governor Jay Inslee called Washington’s decision “an extremely important moment in the pursuit of a fair and equitable application of justice.”
“The Court makes it perfectly clear that capital punishment in our State has been imposed in an ‘arbitrary and racist manner’, is ‘applied unequally’ and serves no purpose of criminal justice,” added Inslee.
According to Amnesty International (AI) data, 993 executions were recorded in 23 countries in 2017, a reduction of 4% compared to 2016, and 39% compared to 2015, a record year with 1,634 executions.
These data do not include China, where AI estimates there are “thousands” of executions every year, but statistics on the subject are still a state secret.