Malaysia's cabinet has agreed to abolish the death penalty, a senior minister said Thursday, in a decision hailed by rights groups.
Capital punishment in Malaysia is currently mandatory for murder, kidnapping, possession of firearms and drug trafficking, among other crimes.
The penalty is exclusively carried out by hanging in Malaysia -- a legacy of British colonial rule. Communications and multimedia minister Gobind Singh Deo confirmed the cabinet had resolved to end the death penalty.
"I hope the law will be amended soon," he added.
"All death penalty will be abolished. Since we are abolishing the sentence, all executions should not be carried out," he said.
The government decided to scrap capital punishment because there had been strong domestic opposition to the practice. The decision was welcomed by rights advocates.
"The death penalty is barbarous, and unimaginably cruel," N. Surendran, an advisor with the Lawyers for Liberty rights group said in a statement.
"Drug-related offences will be different and consideration must be given to convicts who, for example, were drug mules, as compared to those who committed heinous crimes," it is said.
"We also need to comprehensively consider all cases, especially when it concerns the families of murdered victims," he said.
Once the death penalty is scrapped, Malaysia will have the moral authority to fight for the lives of Malaysians facing death sentences abroad, he added.