Laws on caning make ratifying UN convention hard, says Saifuddin


Home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail says Malaysia would have to amend many of its laws if it ratifies the United Nations Convention Against Torture. (Reuters pic)

PETALING JAYA: It is difficult for Malaysia to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture (Uncat) because punishments meted out in the country, such as caning, run afoul of its rules.

Home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, in responding to a question in Parliament from Teresa Kok (PH-Seputeh) on whether Malaysia plans to ratify the convention, said the country could not do so yet.

“Some sections (of the Uncat) clearly state that our laws cannot contain any element that causes severe pain.

“Our laws still have whipping (as a punishment). The shariah court (also provides for) lashings. Caning causes pain.

“Signing the Uncat means we will have to amend many of these laws,” he said.

Under Uncat, “torture” is defined as any act by which “severe pain or suffering is intentionally inflicted on a person” for reasons that include “punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed”.

Saifuddin noted that neither Singapore nor Brunei have ratified the convention.

No custodial deaths due to suicide, assault

Saifuddin said the custodial deaths reported at immigration and police detention centres were not due to suicide or assault, but were linked to poor health.

“I was informed of this through the findings of post-mortem reports. All the cases were related to health problems,” he said.

He said the immigration department reported 20 such deaths from Jan 1 to 18, comprising nationals from Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia.

The police also recorded 24 deaths from 2022 to May 25 this year.

“They were due to Covid-19, tuberculosis and heart problems. There were no suicides, no hangings or (cases of) police assault,” he said. - FMT

Laws on caning make ratifying UN convention hard, says Saifuddin