At least 119 Nigerians are on death row in Malaysia, according to Amnesty International.
They were arrested over drug-related offences and later convicted.
The human rights organisation disclosed this in a report entitled: “Fatally flawed: Why Malaysia must abolish the death penalty.”
It said 1,281 persons were on death row in the Asian country, adding that the inmates were being kept in 26 detention facilities across the country.
A significant 73 percent of all those under sentence of death have been convicted of drug trafficking, which carries a death sentence in Malaysia.
While the organisation kicked against death sentence, it said they were not given a fair trial as part of customary international law.
“In researching this report, Amnesty International has found numerous violations of the right to a fair trial at different points of the criminal justice process that leave defendants vulnerable to the imposition of the death penalty,” it said.
“Restrictions on access to legal counsel remains a critical defect of Malaysia’s judicial system. Under the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, detainees are supposed to be able to consult and be defended by the legal practitioner of their choice as soon as possible after arrest.
“However, despite these programmes, lawyers and other representatives of prisoners on death row have told Amnesty International that it has been a common experience for those arrested for offences that could result in the death penalty, and who cannot hire a lawyer independently, not to receive legal assistance at the time of arrest or during their time under police remand, before charges are brought.
“A lawyer associated with the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre also estimated that, due to a lack of resources, coverage of the scheme at the time of arrest and remand hearing is just 60-70%, with coverage dropping outside Kuala Lumpur.
“Further, because of how legal aid is structured, no legal representatives are assigned to a case until the trial is due to start, leaving defendants without legal assistance during interrogation and for prolonged periods.
“Our research found a pattern of unfair trials and secretive hangings that itself spoke volumes. From allegations of torture and other ill-treatment to an opaque pardons process, it’s clear the death penalty is a stain on Malaysia’s criminal justice system.”
Source: The Cable