Press Release: Corporal punishment is still against international human rights principles even if carried out secretly
Thursday, 18 February 2010 03:49pm
The Malaysian Bar is shocked and disappointed with Minister of Home Affairs, Dato’ Seri Hishamuddin bin Tun Hussein’s announcement yesterday that three Muslim women were caned by the prison authority for offences committed under the Syariah Law.
The Malaysian Bar Resolution unanimously adopted at its 61st Annual General Meeting on 17 March 2007 denounced and rejected whipping as a punishment for any offence as it is anachronistic and inconsistent with a compassionate society. Our position echoes international human rights norms that condemn whipping and other forms of corporal punishment as cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Given that the Kartika issue remains unresolved and the public outcry on issues of constitutionality in regards to the fact that corporal punishment is forbidden for women under Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it is indeed shocking that the Government has made the announcement only after the punishment had been carried out.
We call on the Government to immediately review and abolish all forms of punishment involving whipping and proceed to comply with international norms and principles on punishment.
18 February 2010
Disassociation with Malaysian Bar President’s Press Statement of 18 February 2010.
With respect Mr. President, and with reference to your press statement of 18 February 2010, I wish to note a few points:-
- There is a difference between normal caning and Syariah caning.
- The Malaysian Bar does not (strictly speaking) represent Syarie lawyers who practice in the Syariah Courts.
- As I understand it (and I welcome correction), the punishment of caning/flogging for an adulteress is allowed in the Quran. Adultery is clearly an "offence" against the percepts of Islam if committed by a person professing the religion of Islam.
- So, for the Malaysian Bar (who does not represent Syarie lawyers) to make a sweeping statement calling for the review and abolishment of this form of punishment (without commenting on how Syariah caning is different, and without explaning that section 289 of the CPC does not bind the Syariah Courts – 2 reasons that immediately leap to mind) is a little insensitive; having regard to the fact that this particular offence derives its authority, ultimately, from the Quran – which to a Muslim is God's very own words.
- The short reference to 'international norms and principles of punishment' as a comparison does not do justice to this issue.
I therefore disassociate myself from this press statement.
P.S. Was it prudent that the announcement about the caning of the 3 women for adultery came only after the fact? Of course NOT, given the background of the whole issue.