Drug Offences & The Death Penalty in Malaysia

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Please join us for the online launch of our report Drug Offences and the Death Penalty in Malaysia: Fair Trial Rights and Ramifications.

About this Event

There are approximately 1280 people currently on death row in Malaysia.

A majority of these people have been convicted of drug-related offences. Many face socio-economic disadvantage, nationality and language barriers.

Harm Reduction International, Monash University and the Anti-Death Penalty Asian Network (ADPAN) have come together to investigate how the Malaysian criminal justice system affords people charged with drug-related capital offences access to justice and fair trial rights, from the stage of arrest through to death row.

You are warmly invited to this global event, launched by the former Chief Justice of Malaysia, to explore the findings of this important report. You will learn about the experiences of those charged with drug-related offending, challenges faced by foreign nationals, and hear a firsthand account of being a trial advocate for death row prisoners.

Global Event Timing

8:00pm MYT / 10:00pm AEST / 1:00pm BST

Order of events

The launch will be hosted by lawyer ChowYing Ngeow, ADPAN.

Report authors Dr. Natalia Antolak-Saper, Sara Kowal, Dr. Thaatchaayini Kananatu of Monash University and ChowYing Ngeow will summarise their findings.

Former Chief Justice of Malaysia Tan Sri Richard Malanjum will launch the Report.

Professor Carolyn Hoyle, Death Penalty Research Unit, Oxford University will outline the specific challenges foreign nationals on death row encounter followed by lawyer Fahri Azzat who will speak of his experience as a trial advocate for death row prisoners.

Finally Giada Girelli, Human Rights Analyst, Harm Reduction International will address the experiences of those charged with drug related offending in Malaysia.


Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Former Chief Justice of Malaysia

Tan Sri Richard Malanjum is the former Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Malaysia. He was elevated to the highest position in the Malaysian Judiciary on 12th July 2018. Prior to that position he was the Chief Judge of the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak since July 2006. He was also a past President of the Sabah Law Association, now Sabah Law Society. He retired on 12th April 2019 after more than 27 years on the Bench beginning in 1992.

Not long after his retirement the Malaysian Government invited him to chair a Special Committee to carry out a study on the alternative punishment that could be imposed upon the proposed removal of mandatory death penalty in Malaysia being implemented. The nine members Committee worked from middle of September 2019 to the middle of January 2020. It has produced a final Report and handed it to the Government for its consideration. To date neither the Report has been made available to the public nor any further step being taken on the proposed removal of mandatory death penalty.

Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper, Monash University

Natalia Antolak-Saper is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Monash University. Natalia graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology, and a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours. She completed her professional training with Lander & Rogers Lawyers, and was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and of the High Court of Australia.

In 2012 she received an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship and commenced her PhD which examined the extent to which the media impacts upon sentencing policy. In 2017, she was a Visiting Scholar at the William and Mary Law School, Williamsburg, USA. She has published articles on diverse topics including directed verdicts, bail conditions, and gambling regulation. She teaches criminal law and trusts in the LLB and JD programs at Monash. Her research areas are in comparative criminal law and procedure with a particular focus on unrepresented accused, sentencing and the death penalty.

Sara Kowal, Capital Punishment Impact Initiative, Monash University

Sara has practiced exclusively in criminal law since 2004. Drawing on her extensive legal experience and knowledge gained through obtaining her Masters of Public Policy and Management, she brings these skills to her work at the Capital Punishment Impact Initiative. Sara is also the Vice-President of the Capital Punishment Justice Project (CPJP), an NGO that aims to abolish the death penalty worldwide

In 2018, Sara commenced supervising the Anti-Death Penalty Clinic at Monash University, the first stage of the Capital Punishment Impact Initiative. In November 2019, Sara joined the Executive of the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) on behalf of CPJP. She also sits on several working groups of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Dr Thaatchaayini Kananatu, Monash University

Thaatchaayini Kananatu is a Lecturer in Law at the Business Law and Taxation Department, School of Business, Monash University Malaysia. She holds an LLB Law (Hons.) (Cardiff), LLM/Masters in International Law (Oxford Brookes), and a PhD (Monash) in socio-legal studies. Her research interests include law, gender and race; law and social movements; as well as ethics, human rights and social justice.

She is the author of Minorities, Rights and the Law in Malaysia (2020, Routledge) and is co-editor of Vulnerable Groups in Malaysia (2020, De Gruyter) with Sharon G. M. Koh. She is also a British High Commissioner’s Chevening Scholar.

Ngeow Chow Ying , Lawyer, ADPAN

Ngeow Chow Ying is a practicing lawyer and has been active in the campaign against the death penalty in Malaysia and regionally for more than 10 years. Chow Ying is the member of the Executive Committee of Anti Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) from 2015-2019 and has represented ADPAN in various international conferences. She works largely on raising public education, campaigning for individual case, engaging with media and policy maker, research and has assisted in developing strategy for a wider network of abolition movement.

Professor Carolyn Hoyle, Death Penalty Research Unit, Oxford University

Carolyn Hoyle is Professor of Criminology at the University of Oxford. She has been researching and teaching on the death penalty for over 15 years. She has completed a pilot study of Foreign Nationals at Risk of Capital Punishment in Malaysia and hopes to continue this work over the coming year or two, alongside similar work across other South and Southeast Asian jurisdictions.

She is currently working with a London-based charity, The Death Penalty Project on public and ‘elite’ opinion research on the death penalty in Indonesia and Zimbabwe, having recently worked on opinion research in India and Bangladesh. Over the coming months and years, she plans to conduct elite opinion research in Taiwan, developing deterrence research in Indonesia, and work with the Capital Punishment Impact Initiative and international and regional NGOs to develop an interactive database of information on foreign nationals sentenced to death in Asia and the Middle East.

Fahri Azzat, Lawyer

Fahri Azzat has been an advocate and solicitor in Peninsular Malaysia since 1999. He runs his own practice under the style of Messrs Fahri & Co. and has been defending accused persons facing the death penalty for the last decade, primarily for murder and drug trafficking offences. He believes a fair trial is one of the most important safeguards to achieve justice and regularly trains young Malaysian advocates and solicitors in trial and hearing advocacy. He is the author of The Malaysian Guide to Advocacy, published by Thomson Reuters, which was published last year.

Giada Girelli, Human Rights Analyst, Harm Reduction International

Giada is a Human Rights Analyst at Harm Reduction International. She monitors trends on violations of fundamental rights committed in the name of drug control and coordinates advocacy with partners around the world on relevant issues.

Giada holds a law degree from the University of Torino (Italy), and an LLM in Human Rights, Conflict and Justice from SOAS (University of London). Prior to working at Harm Reduction International, she undertook research and policy analysis for the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights team at the International Secretariat of Amnesty International; worked in Guatemala with a local NGO promoting indigenous peoples' rights; and, worked at the SOAS Human Rights Clinic on access to justice. In mid-2017, Giada published a book on transitional justice titled Understanding Transitional Justice: A Struggle for Peace, Reconciliation, and Rebuilding.

Contact us

About the Event:

Name: Elly Mitchell

E-Mail: elly.mitchell@monash.edu

Phone: 03 9905 5631

Name: Heather Trevisan

E-Mail: heather.trevisan@monash.edu

Phone: 03 9905 2630

About the Research:

Name: Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper

E-Mail: natalia.antolak-saper@monash.edu

Name: Sara Kowal

E-Mail: sara.kowal@monash.edu

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