Malaysian Bar calls for moratorium, review of death sentences

Source: Malay Mail Online

Picture by Saw Siow Feng

Malaysian Bar President George Varughese reiterated today that the Bar’s position was that no offence should attract capital punishment. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — The Malaysian Bar urged Putrajaya today to further amend the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) to allow convicts to seek a review of their death sentences under new provisions to the law, along with a moratorium on executions.

Malaysian Bar president George Varughese also expressed concern that judges may still be constrained in exercising their discretion on sentencing, despite the removal of a clause that would have made this contingent on the prosecution’s support.

The DDA was amended by Dewan Rakyat last week to remove the mandatory death penalty, handing discretion to judges when sentencing drug traffickers, but which implored the judiciary to consider mitigating factors when doing so. Read more

Parliament removes mandatory death penalty for drug offences, judges to get discretion

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 — An amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 was passed today to remove the mandatory death penalty for drug offences and to instead give judges full discretion in sentencing.

The amendments were passed on the last day of the current Dewan Rakyat meeting via a majority voice vote after Putrajaya altered a provision in the amendment bill that was criticised by Opposition members and the Bar Council.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman tabled an alteration to the bill to give full discretion to judges in sentencing drug convicts.

The previous version of the amendment bill said that the judge could only exercise their discretion if the Public Prosecutor issued a certificate declaring that the convict had cooperated with authorities. Read more

Table bill to end mandatory death penalty, government told

Source: FMT News 

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar says the government should table a bill in the current parliamentary session to put an end to the mandatory death penalty, declare an official moratorium on the use of the punishment, stay any pending executions and commute every death sentence to one of life imprisonment.

In a statement today, Bar president George Varughese said the statutory imposition of the mandatory death penalty ties the hands of judges and diminishes their role in carrying out justice.

“It prevents them from considering the manifold mitigating factors and distinctive circumstances that surround each case, before sentencing.

“These factors include, and are not limited to, the offender’s age, rehabilitation goals, past criminal record, role played in the offence, mental capacity, reparations made, fear of another person, use of violence, harm done to property or persons, and degree of cooperation with the authorities.

“Justice will not be served if these factors are not taken into account before the mandatory death sentence is mechanically handed down – without a judge’s thoughtful consideration and weighing of any mitigating elements – to comply with the letter of the law,” he said. Read more

Hold off hangings until death penalty rule revoked, urges LFL

Source: FMT News 

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has called for a moratorium on capital punishments pending amendments to Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

Speaking to FMT, LFL executive director Eric Paulsen said he “cautiously” welcomed an announcement that the cabinet had agreed to amend the act to provide judges with discretion in sentencing.

He said the right thing to do now was to hold off all hangings until the amendments are passed. He also called for similar changes to other laws that provide for mandatory death sentences.

Yesterday, in a written reply to a parliamentary question, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said said the cabinet was unanimous in agreeing to amend the act and relevant ministries and agencies were preparing proposals for the amendments.

Paulsen said: “This is indeed good news but the government has said this in the past and did not carry through with it. So we cautiously welcome the announcement.” Read more

Cabinet agreement on death penalty reforms welcomed — Amnesty International Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online 

AUGUST 7 — Amnesty International Malaysia welcomes the Cabinet’s decision to allow judges to impose other forms of punishment in place of the mandatory death penalty against those convicted of drug trafficking.

“We welcome the move as a recognition that the mandatory death penalty is egregious form of punishment. However, we remain concerned that the legislative changes are limited to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and that executions continue to be carried out against others who have also been mandatorily sentenced to death,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said.

Malaysia imposes the mandatory death penalty for 12 offences, including murder, drug trafficking, terrorism-related offences when these result in death, and some firearms offences. The imposition of the mandatory death penalty is prohibited under international law.

The UN Human Rights Committee has stated that ‘the automatic and mandatory imposition of the death penalty constitutes an arbitrary deprivation of life […] in circumstances where the death penalty is imposed without any possibility of taking into account the defendant’s personal circumstances or the circumstances of the particular offence’. 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