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

MPs: Public prosecutor has no right interfering in sentencing

Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Two opposition MPs said Putrajaya must explain why it does not want to return the discretionary powers of judges to impose the death penalty on drug traffickers.

Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh and Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto asked if there was evidence to suggest that the position before the introduction of the mandatory death penalty in 1983 was a failure that required the removal of such powers.

“Has confidence in the judiciary dropped to such an extent that the courts today cannot be trusted with the sole discretion of imposing the death penalty on a convicted person,” they asked.

Their response came in a joint statement following amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 that, among others, allowed the interference of the public prosecutor in the sentencing process. Read more

Judiciary should determine sentence, not prosecutor

Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today hit out at the proposed bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, saying it is for the judiciary to determine the sentence, not the prosecutor.

LFL executive director Eric Paulsen acknowledged that the bill allowed for the trial judge to sentence a drug offender to life imprisonment and whipping instead of handing out the death sentence.

However, he pointed out that this was only possible if the public prosecutor issued a certificate verifying that the convict had assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia. 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

Putrajaya not getting soft on drugs, minister says

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Putrajaya’s bid to remove the mandatory death penalty for drug convictions does not mean the administration is becoming lenient towards narcotics abuse, said Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.

The minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who tabled the amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act today said the move was simply to allow the courts the discretion to decide on the maximum penalty for offences under the law.

She also noted that the proposed minimum sentence was still life imprisonment with no fewer than 15 strokes of the cane.

“All parties should view this amendment as a proactive step by the government to ensure appropriate justice for those who should not receive the mandatory death penalty,” she said in a statement. Read more

New drug law would give AGC power of life and death, says MP

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Putrajaya’s proposal to make the death penalty optional could instead allow the Attorney-General’s Chambers to decide if an accused should die for his crime, said PKR’S N. Surendran.

Criticising the government for stopping short of removing the death penalty in the proposed amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, the Padang Serai MP said the change would mean the courts could only opt for a lesser sentence if the prosecutor was agreeable.

“The Bill does not go far enough, gives the power to decide life or death to the public prosecutor and is in breach of the doctrine of separation of powers.

“The new amendments are thus a serious trespass upon judicial authority and infringe the constitutional doctrine of the separation of powers. The act of sentencing and the type of sentence must be purely a judicial exercise, without any involvement whatsoever of the executive. Read more

Govt tables amendment to allow judges to decide penalty for drug traffickers

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Putrajaya tabled today an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (DDA) to return discretionary powers to the court instead of imposing the mandatory death sentence on drug traffickers.

The amendment, tabled for first reading today by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, seeks to revert Section 39B as law.

The provision, introduced in an amendment to the DDA or Act 234 in 1975, had allowed a person convicted of drug trafficking to be punished with jail and whipping or death.

It was removed in 1983 so that drug traffickers could only be punished with death.

Under the new amendment to Section 39B(2) of the DDA, any person who is found guilty of trafficking dangerous drugs can be be punished with either the death penalty or life in prison and whipping with a minimum of 15 strokes. Read more

Death penalty reforms must be an opportunity for positive human rights change — Amnesty International Malaysia

Source: The Malay Mail Online

NOVEMBER 3 — Amnesty International Malaysia welcomes the statement by the Malaysian government outlining its efforts  to amend Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 and to provide courts with the discretion to spare lives when imposing the death penalty. The organisation encourages the Government of Malaysia to ensure that the proposed amendments will fully remove the mandatory death penalty and establish a moratorium on all executions as first critical steps towards abolition of the death penalty.

The announcement comes after a parliamentary reply by Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on 30 October 2017,  stating that the first draft of the amendment has been completed by the Attorney General’s Chambers and is awaiting the approval of the cabinet.

The announcement comes after a parliamentary reply by Law Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on 30 October 2017,  stating that the first draft of the amendment has been completed by the Attorney General’s Chambers and is awaiting the approval of the cabinet.

The organisation also welcomes the support of the Attorney General, Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali  in giving the discretionary power to the judiciary in drug-related offences in a statement made on 31 October. Read more