Kuala Lumpur: Caning in Malaysia has "hit
epidemic proportions" with thousands of people subjected every
year to beatings which leave permanent physical and mental
scars, Amnesty International said Monday.
The London-based rights group called on the Malaysian
government to immediately end the practice of judicial caning,
which is meted out for serious crimes including murder and
rape and for immigration violations.
"Caning in Malaysia has hit epidemic proportions," said
Sam Zarifi, Amnesty International`s Asia-Pacific director.
"In every case that we examined, the punishment amounted
to torture, which is absolutely prohibited under any
Amnesty said that since 2002, when parliament made
immigration violations subject to caning, tens of thousands of
migrant workers and foreigners seeking asylum had undergone
"In Malaysian prisons specially trained caning officers
tear into victims` bodies with a meter-long cane swung with
both hands at high speed," it said.
"The cane rips into the victim`s naked skin, pulps the
fatty tissue below, and leaves scars that extend to muscle
fibre. The pain is so severe that victims often lose
Amnesty said that prison officers were paid a bonus for
each stroke, enabling them to double their income by
administering the punishment.
"Others take bribes to intentionally miss, sparing their
victims," it said.
Corporal punishment has become a hot topic in Malaysia,
particularly after a a Muslim mother of two was last year
sentenced to six strokes and a fine for drinking alcohol.
However, caning for religious offences, ordered by
Islamic courts which run in parallel with civil courts in the
Muslim-majority country, is much lighter than in the civil
Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno`s sentence for drinking
alcohol was eventually reduced to community service but three
other women then received between four and six strokes of the
cane after being convicted of sex outside marriage.
The penalties triggered uproar among women`s activists
and human rights advocates.