Lawyers challenge Singapore attempt to use ‘fake news’ law over prison killings claim

From Free Malaysia Today

Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran, flanked by Gurdial Singh Nijar and LFL director Melissa Sasidaran, talking to reporters. Pic from FMT.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) is seeking to declare as illegal an order issued by Singapore’s home minister, under its anti-fake news law, over claims by the rights group on brutal extra-legal execution methods carried out at the Changi Prison.

In a suit filed at the High Court registry today, LFL is also seeking a court pronouncement that the minister, or anyone acting under his authority, could not act to enforce any provision of the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (Pofma).

“A correction direction issued by Singapore under Pofma is illegal, oppressive and an attempt to silence Malaysian citizens from exercising their right to free speech in Malaysia,” they said.

Apart from LFL, the other plaintiffs are its adviser, N Surendran, and director Melissa Sasidaran.

Minister K Shanmugam is named as the defendant.

The swift action came about after LFL claimed it had received evidence of such methods by prison guards in the event the hanging procedure fails during execution.

Surendran, who is also a lawyer, alleged that if the rope broke during a hanging, a prison officer would pull the rope that was around the neck of the prisoner towards him.

“Meanwhile, another prison officer will apply pressure by pulling the body in the opposite direction.” he had said.

Saying the details were shared by a former executioner at Changi Prison, Surendran said prison guards would kick the convict’s back “with great force in order to break it”, while ensuring there would be no tell-tale marks in case there was an autopsy.

Singapore said the claims were “untrue, baseless and preposterous allegations”, adding that all judicial executions in the state were carried out in strict compliance with the law.

It also instructed the Pofma office to issue a “correction direction” against LFL’s statement on its website.

Meanwhile, lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar said this was an unusual action against Singapore as the penalty for violating Pofma carried a jail term.

“They can issue a warrant of arrest against Surendran and Melissa to face charges there,” he said.

Gurdial, who is taking up the case with Ambiga Sreenevasan, said the minister could rely on sovereign immunity in not responding to the suit but, at the same time, he had encroached into fundamental rights of Malaysian citizens.

“You cannot extend your laws against the citizens of another nation,” Gurdial said, adding that he hoped the minister would contest the action in the Malaysian court.

Meanwhile, Ambiga said it was imperative for the plaintiffs to file this action against the minister as the new Malaysian government has repealed its Anti-Fake News Act.

Meanwhile, in an affidavit in support of the action, the plaintiffs said LFL’s statement issued on Jan 16 was in the public interest as there were many Malaysians facing the death penalty in Singapore.

They said the minister issued an order to do a correction and failure to do so was an offence under Pofma, which carried a fine of up to S$20,000 or a maximum jail sentence of 12 months for individuals.

They said LFL had issued a press statement three days ago dismissing the minister’s stand.

Expert: Lack of data hampers anti-drug war

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A criminologist has urged the government to commission a deep study into the effectiveness of law enforcement against drug-related crimes, including the deterrent value of the death sentence for trafficking.

P Sundramoorthy, an associate professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, told FMT that Malaysian authorities were labouring under a lack of scientific data in their fight against drug abuse and trafficking.

His call was prompted by a recent United Nations statement about the ineffectiveness of harsh sentences imposed for drug-related offences. Andrew Gilmour, the UN assistant secretary-general for human rights, noted that Southeast Asia accounted for half of the 32 countries and territories in the world where drug crimes could result in the death penalty.

Sudramoorthy pointed out that there was a large number of convicted drug traffickers on death row in Malaysia and said this indicated that capital punishment was not a deterrent. Read more

Fijian woman fails to challenge legality of death penalty

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PUTRAJAYA: A Fijian woman who is facing a drug trafficking charge today failed in her bid to challenge the legality of the mandatory death sentence for the offence.

A three-member Court of Appeal bench, chaired by Mohtarudin Baki, dismissed Christin Nirmal’s appeal to refer the matter to the Federal Court.

Mohtaruddin did not provide grounds for refusing Christin’s appeal to refer the case to the Federal Court under Section 84 of the Courts of Judicature Act (COJA) 1964.

Christin, 30, is claiming that the 1983 amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) 1952 that removed the judge’s discretion to either impose the capital punishment or jail term was unconstitutional.

Read more

Malaysian Gopi Kumar is 6th victims of Minister’s Delay bringing into force law that abolishes mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking — Charles Hector

BY CHARLES HECTOR 

For and on behalf of MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) notes that despite the fact that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 receiving royal assent on 27/12/2017, that effectively abolishes the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, the failure of the Minister to do the needful to bring the law into force has resulted in Malaysian judges still having no choice but to sentence convicted drug traffickers to death.

‘…”Since there is only one sentence provided for under Section 39B of the Act, the court hereby sentences all the accused to death,” he [Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha] said….’(The Sun Daily,22/1/2018). Until the new Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force, Judges continues to have no discretion but to sentence those convicted to death.

Read more

Malaysian, four Indian nationals to hang for drug trafficking

Source: Malay Mail Online

SHAH ALAM, Jan 18 ― A local man and four Indian nationals were sent to the gallows by the High Court here today after being found guilty on two counts of trafficking 5.8kg of drugs at a house which doubled as a drug processing laboratory five years ago.

Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha handed down the sentence to A. Sargunan, 42, and four Indian nationals, namely Sumesh Sudhakaran, 30, Alex Aby Jacob Alexander, 37, Renjith Raveendran, 28, and Sajith Sadanandan, 29, after finding that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts against the prosecution’s case.

Read more

Bar: Withhold amendment bill until judicial discretion restored

Source: FMT News

Malaysian Bar vice president George Varughese. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

Malaysian Bar president George Varughese. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has called on the government to withhold the passing of a bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 in its current form, following concerns that it will allow sentencing to be dependent on the public prosecutor.

Its president George Varughese said the bill, tabled for first reading in Parliament on Nov 23, needed to redrafted and retabled with amendments that would genuinely restore judicial discretion in sentencing.

He said the Bar viewed the tabling of the bill to move Malaysia away from the mandatory death sentence as a step in the right direction, with the provision that allowed an alternative sentence to the death penalty.

“The Malaysian Bar is steadfast in our view that life is sacred, and every person has an inherent right to life,” he said.

“However, we are concerned that the bill does not go far enough in restoring judicial discretion.

“The shift from the mandatory death penalty to judicial discretion in sentencing should not be dependent upon the say-so of the public prosecutor,” he said in a statement today. Read more

Public prosecutor granted ‘too much power’ over life and death, says human rights group

Source: The Malaysian Insight

A HUMAN rights group is critical of an amendment to the law governing the death penalty, saying it gives too much power to the public prosecutor over the judge in determining who deserved to be sentenced to death.

Yesterday, the bill for the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 was passed in Parliament, amending Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which pertains to the death penalty. The new law allows the judge to exercise discretion in meting out life imprisonment instead of the death penalty, which was previously mandatory for those convicted of drug trafficking.

However, a clause states that the judge may impose a sentence other than the death penalty, only if and when the “public prosecutor certifies in writing to the court, that in his determination, the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia.”

“It is wrong to give the public prosecutor the power to decide who dies and who may live,” Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) coordinator Charles Hector said in a statement today. Read more

Death penalty: Wrongful convictions and unfair sentencing in Malaysia

Source: Asian Correspondent

Lawyers Chong and former HAKAM President Abdul Rashid Ismail speaking on death penalty at @freedomfilmfest in Kuala Lumpur. Source: @AmnestyMy. Taken from Asian Correspondent.

WHILE the death penalty in Malaysia is an issue that divides the nation and continues to be a hot topic in parliament, there is a group of people whose voices never enter the debate. They are the silent victims of this colonial-era law and the ones that pay the ultimate price for the errors of others – the wrongfully convicted.

Splitting public opinion pretty much down the middle, the death penalty in Malaysia is a hangover from British rule and is still the mandatory punishment for murder, drug trafficking, treason, and waging war against the King.

Last year, Malaysia executed nine people – up from one the previous year – and handed down 36 death sentences. In its latest report on the issue, rights group Amnesty International ranked Malaysia tenth in the use of the death penalty among 23 countries where executions were recorded. Read more

Malaysia holds off execution of convicted Filipino murderer

Source: FMT News 

MANILA: Malaysia has granted a last-minute stay of execution to a convicted Filipino murderer following an appeal by Manila, Philippine officials said Saturday.

Ejah Jaafar, whose age was not given, was scheduled to hang on Friday after being found guilty of murder in Malaysia in 2006.

But following an appeal by the Philippine mission in Kuala Lumpur, Jaafar’s case was referred back to the pardons board in Sabah state according to a Philippines foreign department statement on Saturday.

The government said its ambassador to Kuala Lumpur has since 2015 been requesting that the Malaysian authorities spare Jaafar’s life and commute his sentence. Read more

Kabinet setuju pinda hukuman mati pengedar dadah

Sumber: FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: Kabinet sebulat suara bersetuju untuk membenarkan para hakim mengenakan hukuman yang sesuai ke atas pengedar dadah dan bukan hukuman mati melalui satu pindaan kepada Seksyen 39B Akta Dadah Berbahaya 1952.

Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said berkata kementerian dan agensi berwajib akan menyediakan satu memorandum untuk persetujuan jemaah menteri.

Beliau berkata kajian ke atas isu itu dijalankan melalui Pusat Pengajian Hukum dan Perundangan Antarabangsa (I-CeLLS) dan dibentangkan ke jemaah menteri pada 1 Mac.

“Kabinet sebulat suara bersetuju untuk meminda Seksyen 39B Akta Dadah Berbahaya,” katanya. Read more