The Malaysian Bar is troubled that the Sharia Court in Terengganu sentenced two women to six strokes of the cane and a fine of RM3,300 for same-sex relations (musahaqah).
The sentence of caning imposed on the two women is a serious cause for concern.
The Malaysian Bar unreservedly opposes corporal punishment, including caning. It is a harsh and barbaric form of punishment that causes harmful and long-lasting psychological effects, and has no place in a modern and compassionate society such as ours.
Under international human rights law, corporal punishment constitutes a form of torture. There is empirical evidence to show that it has failed as a retributive and deterrent sentence. Punishment of this nature must be abolished.
The Malaysian Bar therefore calls on the federal and state governments to impose an immediate moratorium against all forms of corporal punishment and to repeal provisions for such punishment in all legislation.
The Malaysian Bar also calls on the federal government to accede to the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as pledged, without further delay, in what the Malaysian Bar hopes will be a positive step towards the total abolition of caning or whipping as a form of punishment for all offences.
It is imperative that the federal and state governments take the necessary legislative and administrative measures to ensure that no person in this country is subjected to any form of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
George Varughese is president of the Malaysian Bar.