Malaysia has made a decision to abolish the death penalty, a senior minister said Thursday, with more than 1200 people on death row, including Australian Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto, set to win a reprieve following a groundswell of opposition to capital punishment.
Government minister Liew Vui Keong reportedly said earlier Thursday there would be a moratorium on executions for inmates now on death row.
Foreign diplomats and worldwide human rights groups on Thursday praised Malaysia for plans to abolish the death penalty in the next legislative session.
"Today, I join fellow human rights defenders and the global community in renewing and sustaining the campaign against the death penalty", De Lima said in a statement on Wednesday.
"This is part of our election pledge and also in line with the move away from capital punishment in the rest of the world", he told The Associated Press.
More than 1,200 people are on death row in Malaysia, which mandates hanging as punishment for a wide range of crimes including murder, drug trafficking, treason, kidnapping and acts of terror.
Foreign embassies and rights groups were supportive of the move.
Amnesty International also cheered the news, calling it "an astounding announcement".
"All death penalty will be abolished".
Doan Thi Huong of Vietnam, left, and Siti Aisyah of Indonesia could face the death penalty of convicted of the murder of Kim Jong-Nam.
The UN chief argued that legal representation or transparent criminal proceedings might have spared them from the death penalty.
In April a year ago, Amnesty International ranked Malaysia 10th in the use of death penalty among the 23 countries that carried out capital punishment in 2016.
Amnesty International welcomed the decision and urged other nations in the region to follow suite.
"Having rejected the death penalty in this country, we now have the moral authority to fight for the lives of our citizens overseas", he said, referring to the hundreds of Malaysians on death row in Singapore and other countries, particularly for being drug mules.
Mr Gilmour said there was "far too much secrecy, and it's quite indicative of the fact that although many countries are giving up the practice".
Excluding China, Amnesty says Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Pakistan - in that order - carried out 84 per cent of all executions in 2017.