PETALING JAYA: Human rights lawyer P Uthayakumar has appealed for a royal pardon to commute death sentences and reduce jail terms for prisoners in conjunction with the official installation of Sultan Muhammad V as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong tomorrow.
In a letter to Prime Minister Najib Razak today, he also asked that the death penalty be abolished, saying Malaysia was supposed to mature into a civil and developed society by 2020.
The lawyer asked Najib to advise the Royal Pardons Board to announce that prisoners facing death row, natural life and life imprisonment have their sentences respectively commuted to life imprisonment, maximum 20 years jail and 15 years jail.
“To err is human and to forgive is divine. Prisoners deserve a second chance to make amends for their past mistakes,” he wrote.
“In appreciation of this most precious ‘earlier freedom’ they would surely want to keep out of trouble. The state’s compassion and guidance can therefore yield results. Please temper justice with mercy.”
He said he was making the appeal after having gone through pain and suffering and “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” at Kajang Prison for two years on sedition charges.
“My saddest day in Kajang Prison was when one Mohamad was hanged in the wee hours of Friday the 14th day of March 2015 immediately after the suboh prayers (Muslim prayer at dawn),” he said
He also cited the hanging of the Batumalai brothers, Rames and Suthar, on March 15, despite appeals and representations for a royal pardon.
Uthayakumar also asked that all prisoners on good behaviour while serving jail terms of one year or less for non-violent and non-sexual crimes be granted royal pardons and released.
He said first-time offenders, juveniles and women prisoners on good behaviour while serving terms of more than a year for non-violent and non-sexual crimes should be granted pardons and made to serve only half of their sentences while qualifying for parole.
He added that all other well-behaved prisoners of non-violent and non-sexual criminal cases be granted pardons and made to serve only 55% of their prison sentences while also being granted parole.
For first-time violent and sexual crime prisoners on good behaviour, he asked that they be granted pardons and made to serve only 60% of their prison sentences.
He also appealed for all laws on detention without trial, including under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 involving commercial cases, be abolished.