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Malaysia drops mandatory death penalty for 11 crimes

Kidnapping, drug offenses among those, as Anwar government reforms legal system

Ramkarpal Singh, deputy minister of law and institutional reform, calls the abolition of the death penalty for 11 crimes in Malaysia a "considerably big development." (Photo by Norman Goh)

KUALA LUMPUR -- Malaysian lawmakers on Monday passed bills to repeal the mandatory death penalty and abolish life imprisonment, as Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim's government puts in place legal and institutional reforms.

The bills, tabled to parliament last week, will remove the mandatory death penalty on 11 offenses, including kidnapping and drug trafficking, and give discretionary powers to courts in offenses that result in death. They will also replace life sentences with imprisonment of 30 to 40 years plus whipping of at least 12 strokes.

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