All seven prisoners of conscience who had been detained without charge or trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) were released but restricted. Sixty of the 74 communists who had been detained without charge or trial under the ISA since 1989 were also reported to have been released. Caning continued to be widely used as a punishment for some 40 crimes. At least 12 people were sentenced to death and at least six people were executed. In November the legislative assembly of Kelantan state, which is dominated by the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia, Islamic Party of Malaysia, approved laws for Muslim offenders which prescribed amputations for theft and stoning to death for adultery. However, for these laws to take effect in Kelantan, the Malaysian federal Constitution would have to be amended. Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, head of the National Front federal government, said that it would be difficult to enforce strict Islamic laws in Malaysia's multi-racial and multi-religious society. Seven prisoners of conscience who had been detained without charge or trial under the ISA on suspicion of advocating the secession of the state of Sabah from Malaysia were released from detention but had restrictions imposed on their freedom of movement. Abdul Rahman Ahmad and Benedict Topin were released in June, Vincent Chung, Wenceslous Damit Undikai and Albinus Yudah were released in November and Jeffrey Kitingan in December. Ariffin Haji Hamid was also reported to have been released, but the date was not disclosed. Sixty of the 74 communists who had been detained without charge or trial under the ISA since they voluntarily renounced their involvement in armed opposition and surrendered to the authorities in December 1989 (see Amnesty International Report 1993) were also reportedly released, but their identities were not disclosed. In August the federal Justice Minister introduced a bill in Parliament to extend the use of caning by making it a mandatory penalty for the crime of breach of trust. He said that the aim was to deter the increasing number of "white collar" crimes. Caning continued to be widely inflicted as a supplementary punishment to imprisonment for some 40 crimes including drugs offences, rape and attempted rape, kidnapping, firearms offences, attempted murder, causing grievous injury, child abuse, robbery and theft. For instance, S. Silvaratnam, a waiter, was sentenced in January to 10 years' imprisonment and six cane strokes for grievously injuring two men. In February Sulaiman MUSA, an unemployed man, was sentenced to five years in prison and six strokes of the cane after being convicted of raping two teenage sisters. Amnesty International believes that caning constitutes cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment prohibited by international law. At least 12 people were sentenced to death, nine of whom were convicted of drugs offences and three of murder. The Supreme Court confirmed the death sentences on three people. At least six people were executed, including three Filipinos and two Pakistanis who had reportedly been tortured in custody and convicted of drugs offences in Sabah state after unfair trials. One of the executed Filipinos, Hassim Escandar, was sentenced to death despite the failure of the prosecution to present its key witnesses in court and the denial of any opportunity for Hassim Escandar's counsel to examine the witnesses. Amnesty International received no further information about five other Filipinos imprisoned and under sentence of death in Sabah state after unfair trials (see Amnesty International Report 1993). In June Amnesty International published a report, Malaysia: Death of an innocent? Death penalty accused presumed guilty. This criticized the law under which a mandatory death penalty is imposed on people convicted of drug-trafficking because it places the onus on the accused to prove their innocence rather than on the state to prove their guilt. This contravenes a basic principle of Malaysian jurisprudence and also contravenes numerous international legal safeguards which state that the accused has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty. Amnesty International appealed during the year for the release of prisoners of conscience and called for the prompt trial or release of other political prisoners arbitrarily detained under the isa. It called for the commutation of all death sentences and an end to the use of caning as a punishment.

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