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Malaysia: Amnesty condemns caning sentence for woman who drank alcohol

Amnesty International has condemned the sentencing of a 32-year-old Malaysian woman to the cruel punishment of caning for the crime of drinking alcohol in public.

On 20 July the Shariah High Court in the Malaysian state of Pahang sentenced Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno to six strokes of the cane and fined her RM5,000 (approximately £850) after she pleaded guilty to consuming alcohol last year at a hotel there. The judge in the case had also threatened to jail her for three years if she did not pay the fine, which she subsequently paid.

Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“The Malaysian authorities should immediately revoke the sentence against Kartika and abolish the practice of caning altogether. Caning is cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment and is prohibited under international human rights law.”

The court has ordered that Kartika is to be remanded at the Kajang Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights’s prison from Monday 24 August and caned within seven days of this date. According to reports, no one in the country, male or female, has so far been caned under the country’s Shariah laws (though thousands of people have been caned for other offences, see below), making her the first to be punished in this way. Reports also indicate that she will be the first woman to be caned in Malaysia.

Amnesty has called on the Malaysian government to stop caning people immediately and repeal all laws specifying caning and all other forms of corporal punishment. Currently caning is used as a supplementary punishment for at least 40 crimes in Malaysia.

In June 2009 the Malaysian government announced that they had sentenced 47,914 migrants to caning for immigration offences after amendments to its Immigration Act came into force in 2002. According to the country’s prison department records at least 34,923 migrants were caned in Malaysia between 2002 and 2

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