State pardons boards should meet periodically, says lawyer


Source: FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: The pardons board of every state should hold meetings periodically to pore over cases under their respective jurisdictions, the Malaysian Bar’s migrants, refugees and immigration affairs committee said today.

Its chairman M Ramachelvam said that at present, each board’s activities were opaque and one did not hear of anything much happening at these meetings.

He also said neither the frequency nor the results of the meetings were made known to others, with the exception of the Johor Pardons Board where there were some commutations of sentences in conjunction with the Sultan of Johor’s coronation.“We do not know about their meetings. So our recommendation is that they should hold periodic meetings,” he said.

“They can do so quarterly or have half-yearly meetings to look at cases which have come to the pardons boards in the various states,” he said when met on the sidelines of the two-day conference and training workshop titled “Abolition of the Death Penalty in Malaysia and Asia Pacific” today.

Ramachelvam said the board should not only look at death penalty cases as there were other cases too worthy of attention.

“Of course all death penalty cases have to be considered by the board. But there are a whole host of other cases, such as prisoners facing life in prison and people who have got grounds to seek pardons or commutations (of sentences),” he said.

“If there is no hearing of the state pardons boards, how can they consider all those applications for commutation of sentences?” he added.

Earlier in his presentation titled “Death Penalty – Migrants and Foreign Nationals”, Ramachelvam said some state boards did not hold meetings for long periods.

The Federal Constitution provides for a Pardons Board, presided over by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, for each state, as well as one for all the Federal Territories (FT) in the country.

It comprises the attorney-general, or his representative, the FT minister and three other members to be appointed by the King.

Before giving its decision, the board must consider the written opinion of the attorney-general.