Abdul Rashid Ismail is a member of the Centre for Criminology at the University of Oxford. He has been in legal practice for over 20 years at the Malaysian Bar. He is the Managing Partner of a law firm in Malaysia, Messrs. Rashid Zulkifli. Rashid dedicates a substantial part of his legal practice to pro bono human rights work. He has been involved and continues to be involved in landmark constitutional cases involving the mandatory death sentence, the rights to a fair trial and the rights of the vulnerable including the mentally ill facing execution. The cases include challenging the constitutionality of various provisions of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code. In a recent case before the Malaysian Federal Court’s 9-member bench, a historical dissenting judgment was secured that pronounced the mandatory death sentence as unconstitutional.
Rashid is also an active participant in human rights advocacy programmes and activities geared towards the abolition of the death penalty. His work extends to public awareness programmes, engagements with parliamentarians and civil society. In 2019, Rashid submitted an extensive report to the Special Committee on Alternative Sentencing that was set up to look at proposed reforms on death penalty laws in Malaysia and alternative sentencing should mandatory death penalty be abolished. His extensive work on the abolition of the death penalty has also led to his involvement in the advocacy of decriminalization of drugs use and prison reforms.
Rashid is a past President of the National Human Rights Society of Malaysia (HAKAM) and continues to serve on the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar Council for many years.
Rashid received a Chevening Scholarship from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and successfully completed a MSt in International Human Rights Law from University of Oxford in 2011. Rashid was instrumental in the setting up of the Brunsfield Oxford Asean Human Rights Scholarship for residents of ASEAN to study MSt in International Human Rights Law. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Philosophy at Oxford University and he is researching the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.