KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Malaysia's widespread and growing practice of caning criminals is torture and should be halted immediately, Amnesty International said Monday.
"Caning in Malaysia has hit epidemic proportions," said Sam Zarifi, Amnesty's Asia-Pacific director. "In every case that we examined, the punishment amounted to torture, which is absolutely prohibited under any circumstances."
The group's report, "A Blow to Humanity," found Malaysia has increased the number of crimes punishable by caning to more than 60. Since 2002, when immigration violations were added, tens of thousands of refugees and migrant workers have been subjected to it, Amnesty International said.
The organization said specially trained caning officers hit victims with a yard-long cane swung with both hands. The punishment leaves scars that extend into muscles and the pain is so severe recipients often faint, it said.
The Malaysian government pays officers a lucrative bonus for each stroke, though some are bribed to miss, Amnesty International said.
State-employed doctors are complicit by examining victims and certifying their fitness to be caned, Amnesty International said. When victims lose consciousness, they revive them so the punishment can continue, the group said.