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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Prachathai: MADPET welcomes move towards abolition of mandatory death penalty for drug offences

MADPET welcomes move towards abolition of mandatory death penalty for drug offences

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) welcomes the Malaysian government move to abolish the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, and hope that this is but a start that will end with a total abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia. We also call for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition especially the lives of about 640 people on death row in Malaysia currently for drug offences.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz stated that Malaysia is considering withdrawing the mandatory death sentence for drug offences and replacing it with jail terms.(Star,21/10/2012, Death penalty may be scrapped for drug offences). It is hoped that this indication becomes reality soonest, and that Malaysia would also renew its efforts to save the lives of about “… 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad, including in China, Venezuela and Peru..”

The Malaysian government also did acknowledge in the past(Star, 1/11/2009, Malaysian girls easily duped), that many of those who ended up being sentenced to death for drug trafficking were generally ‘drug mules’, and not the real drug traffickers.

Malaysia’s past efforts to save lives of Malaysians sentenced to death, including that of young Sabahan, Yong Vui Kong, who was convicted by the Singaporean courts for drug trafficking and sentenced to death, is most appreciated. The removal of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking from the Malaysian law, would certainly add greater credibility and strength to Malaysia’s plea for clemency for its citizens on death row for drug offences in other jurisdictions.

The Malaysian Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, in particular section 39B provides that any person involved in trafficking of drugs shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall be punished on conviction with death. The judges and courts, by reason of the mandatory sentence, are deprived of the option of imposing a lesser sentence, and MADPET believes that this is very wrong. We agree with  what the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) stated, amongst others, that the abolition of the mandatory death sentence will also restore to the judiciary the liberty and discretion to determine punishment based on the gravity of the offence as it should always be.

There are presumptions in the Malaysian Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 Act, amongst others, that one ‘…shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to be trafficking in the said drug...’ if one is found in the possession of certain amounts of certain drugs. By reason of this legal presumption, the onus of proving one’s innocence then shifts to the accused, and this not only onerous but also unjust. This is also contrary to the normal rules of criminal justice whereby the onus of proving one’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt is always be with the prosecution. We urge the Malaysian government remove these unjust legal presumptions, and return the burden of proving the elements that constitute the offence to the prosecution especially for the offence of drug trafficking.

MADPET reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty, and for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition. - Prachathai, 24/10/2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

298 persons shot to death by police since 2007 - Demand public inquiry for every case

The 'shoot to kill' actions by the Malaysian police have long been condemned by Malaysians and justice loving persons. Worse still is the police alleged branding these persons as 'criminals' (suspects of alleged crimes are not criminals, as the law presumes innocence until proven guilty). Maybe, some proceedings should be instituted to confirm that these persons were in fact guilty of the crimes that they normally are alleged of being involved by the police in the media. These allegations should really never be made at all - more so since the allegations are being levied against persons already dead killed by the police.... and as such has no way of defending themselves against the alleged crimes they are supposed to have committed, or alleged to have been involved in.

When a person is shot dead by the police, the only question is whether the police were justified in killing them - remembering always that the duty of the police is only the arrest suspects.... The 'shoot to kill' conduct is unacceptable. It does not help matters when we have many TV serials & movies that propagate that it best to shoot and kill 'criminals' - as the criminal justice system does not work and the bad guy with good lawyers can always get off scot free. This is a 'far right' position, and it certainly is not the Malaysian position for we believe in the rule of law.

Inquests (or rather public transparent independent inquiries) must certainly certainly be held to determine whether the police action that caused the deaths are justified. Do our police shoot to kill, or are they instructed to do the best to arrest the suspects? At which part of the body did they shoot?.... 

The excessive number of deaths by police shootings cements, in the public mind, the perception that law enforcement officers are either negligent or reckless in the performance of their duties.  Nothing less than an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation that includes a holistic and inclusive examination of all the relevant facts will assuage the publics concern regarding the integrity and credibility of the police force .- Ragunath Kesavan, President of the Malaysian Bar, 28 April 2010

The Royal Malaysian Police and Malaysian government must now take steps to observe the UN recommendations to a development of non-lethal incapacitated weapons for use in appropriate situations, with a view to restraint application of means, capable of causing death or injury to persons.  - Nora Murat,Executive Director of Amnestry International Malaysia

Do Malaysian police have tasers, etc ....i.e. non-lethal weapons capable of incapacitating suspects who then can be arrested and NOT killed?

298 shot dead by police since 2007

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 23, 2012): Nearly 300 people have been shot dead by the police since 2007, with a large number of them being Indonesians.

In a written reply, the Home Ministry said a total of 298 people of various nationalities were shot dead between 2007 and August this year. Out of this number, Indonesians accounted for 151 alleged criminals who were shot dead.

Malaysians were the second largest group with 134 people, followed by Vietnamese (five), Myanmarese (three), Thais (two), Nigerian (one), Liberian (one) and another person of unknown nationality.

"In 2007, a total of 13 people were shot dead, while in 2008 ( 85), 2009 (88), 2010 (45), 2011 (30) and up to August this year (37).

The ministry was replying to Dr Michael Jeyakumar (PSM-Sungai Siput) who had asked to state the number of people shot dead by police between 2007 and 2012 according to nationality, age, gender, the type of offences and the place they were shot.

He also asked if the ministry plans to have an inquest for the cases.

Of the 298 people shot dead, the age of 116 could not be determined while 179 were between 19 and 60 years old. Only three were between 16 and 18 years old. None were 60 or older. Of the total number shot, only two were women. 

The ministry also said 53 people were shot in Selangor, followed by in Kuala Lumpur (16), Johor (14), Penang (14), Perak (11) and Negri Sembilan (10).

"As for inquests, that is to be determined by the courts." 

The ministry also revealed that the case files of those who were shot dead by the police were classified as "sudden death reports. The police will keep and maintain these records.- The Sun Daily, 23/10/2012, 298 shot dead by police since 2007

Cops killed nearly 300 since 2007

Patrick Lee | October 23, 2012
More than half of those shot dead were Indonesians, Hisham tells Parliament.
KUALA LUMPUR: Police have killed nearly 300 people since 2007, Parliament was told.

More than half of those killed were Indonesians, according to figures provided by Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein in a written reply to Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (PSM-Sungai Siput) yesterday.

He said that Indonesians accounted for 151 out of a total of 298 alleged criminals shot dead between 2007 and August 2012.

Malaysians accounted for the second largest group, with 134 people dead. Next come Vietnamese (5), Myanmarese (3) and Thais (2). During the same period, police also killed one Nigerian, one Liberian and another person of unknown nationality.

Most of the fatal shootings occurred in 2008 and 2009. In 2008, 26 Malaysians and 58 Indonesians were killed. In 2009, 48 Malaysians and 34 Indonesians were killed.

Of the total, 142 people were aged between 21 and 40. Three were between 16 and 18 years. None was 60 or older.

Only two of the 298 were women.

It was also revealed that a large number of the cases involving people getting shot are from Selangor (53 cases). They were followed by Kuala Lumpur police (16), Johor (14), Penang (14) and Perak (11).

According to Hishamuddin, these deaths accounted for a total of 145 cases, and that they were classified as “sudden deaths”. Free Malaysia Today, 23/10/2012, Cops killed nearly 300 since 2007

Malaysians eager for true democracy at all levels of government

We have all been talking about Local Council Elections, where the people will democratically vote in the members of the Local Council, including also the Mayor or the head of the Local Council. Unfortunately, we are still waiting for the day when we will be able to vote in our local government ...

It disturbs me that the Selangor Menteri Besar seem to be no longer talking about 'elections' or true democracy - but just reforms, and wanting Local Councils to evolve into "...state government’s operator in managing cities..." . No Sir, the democratically elected Local Councils would be the 'people's operator in managing their cities, towns and surrounding areas...and they will not be 'directed or controlled by the State or the Federal government..., which is exactly what is happening today where the people not only have no say on who sits on these Local Councils but also on what should the Local Council's focus be on...or where its money should be best spend within the constituency of the Local Council - 

Have you seen Kulai Jaya Local Council Building? - so beautiful it is, certainly would have cost a lot. The monies of the the Local Government could have better spent for the good of the people....a effective public transport system...better....  Beauty should never be the priority - Tallest Flag, F1, Twin Towers, Daya Bumi - world records are not the priority... The priority is always the people - and poor and the marginalized is always the highest priority..

The State Government wants to control Local Councils primarily because of the money - Local Councils have a lot of revenue ....certainly more than what the State government has...

We certainly need serious reforms to ensure that State government revenue/income increases....maybe, part of the income tax that Malaysians pay should also go to the State government. The UMNO-led coalition government has made State governments weak...and without much revenue or even power - Putrajaya rules... we need to look at this...

BUT please do not try to make Local Councils into 'state organs' or 'federal government tools' - it should belong to the people... and they are fully capable of not just electing in their Mayors and councilors - but also determining the agenda and priorities of their local government...

Maybe what Khalid told the media was different from what was reported - because what he seems to be saying goes contrary to what I believe is Pakatan Rakyat's position - free and fair elections at the local government level... the people chooses... 

I wonder how much of the revenue collected by the Local Councils goes to the State government. Logically, a percentage should go to the State. Or is Local Council money only meant to be spend by the Local Council within the geographical boundaries of the Council -- we need to find more about all this? 

By the way, the London Mayor is directly elected by the people - and as such, it truly can be said to be the people's mayor. (In Malaysia, mayors are appointed by the government - not chosen by the people.....Prime Ministers and Menteri Besars are also similarly not directly chosen by the people...)

London Mayoral Election 2012: Boris re-elected as London Mayor

Boris Johnson rescued the Conservatives from disastrous results in the local elections last night, bucking the national trend to win a second term as Mayor of London....- The Telegraph, 25/10/2012, London Mayoral Election 2012: Boris re-elected as London Mayor

Wonder what will happen if all the people of Malaysia were given the right to vote and choose their Prime Minister directly? their Menteri Besar? Would they have chosen the people who are now in these positions today?

Malaysian want to choose their own kampung/taman/community leaders - NO MORE APPOINTED LEADERS PLEASE

Malaysians want to democratically choose their own Local Government - Local Council and even the Mayor. Better if the people choose their own 'Mayor' rather than the Local Councillors amongst themselves choosing the Mayor and the Head...  

Malaysians also hopefully would soon be able to democratically go to the ballot box and choose their own Senators...  Why should Senators be appointed still?

 

Khalid Ibrahim says local council reform is top priority

UPDATED @ 01:59:23 PM 25-10-2012
October 25, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim vows to reform local councils and make it Selangor government’s topmost priority if he is re-elected to lead the state.

“I want to reform the local councils, but I am pressed for time.”

“Local councils should be the state government’s operator in managing cities, and should have the ability to create an environment where citizens can feel that they own the city,” Abdul Khalid (picture) told The Malaysian Insider in a recent interview.

According to Abdul Khalid, he wants Selangor citizens to be proud of their cities, much like Londoners.

“To have a great city, we need a great mayor, just like how Londoners are proud of their mayor, the one with the uncombed hair,” he said.

London Mayor Boris Johnson is well-known for his unruly hair, and has become the pride of Londoners after the city successfully organised the 2012 Olympic Games.

According to Abdul Khalid, the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is among the best local councils in Selangor, in addition to having the highest revenue.

“I recently launched a report about MBPJ which collects revenue of nearly RM300 million. The majority of residents in MBPJ are also graduates, with reasonable income.

“The problem, however, is that currently Petaling Jaya residents do not feel that the city is theirs, they see Kuala Lumpur as theirs instead, and Petaling Jaya is only a place where they go home for the night.

“This is what I want to change, so Petaling Jaya residents can feel that Petaling Jaya is theirs,” he explained.
Abdul Khalid believes that in order to reform local councils, there was a need to change the public’s mindset over their role.

“When we involve the public in the discussions to develop a city, they will feel a sense of ownership and will not hesitate to pay any fees or taxes needed for the good of the council.

“They will feel proud if their city is clean and safe, proud of its cultural performances and sports teams, football teams, for example,” he added.

Abdul Khalid is Selangor’s first mentri besar who is not from Umno since the first post-independence general election was held in 1959.

For the first time in history, Selangor, the wealthiest state in Malaysia, fell into the hands of the opposition — PKR, the DAP and PAS — in 2008.

The opposition also formed Pakatan Rakyat (PR) afterwards, which denied the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) its traditional two-thirds majority in Parliament.

Selangor will continue to be the centre of attention in the next general election, which is predicted to be the fiercest ever.

The issue of water has been a major one leading to the general election, with finger-pointing between PR and BN over control of the water resource of the wealthiest state. It has opened the public’s eyes on the amount of money that will be at stake.

This crisis also has the potential to determine votes in the upcoming general election for Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, with results hanging on which side gets to be blamed if water supply gets disrupted.

Besides governing Selangor, PR also won 10 out of 11 seats in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur in 2008. - Malaysian Insider, 25/10/2012, Khalid Ibrahim says local council reform is top priority

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Malaysia Volunteers Corps Bill 2012 reduces powers of over 2.9 million RELA

The role and powers of RELA will be reduced by new Malaysia Volunteers Corps Bill 2012

- no longer have the power to make arrests or carry firearms

- no longer specifically targeting migrants...

BUT.... is this enough? ABOLISH RELA...need more police - get more police > no need for a volunteer vigilante force in Malaysia

Want to be a volunteer - be a  volunteer police, volunteer army personnel,  volunteer firemen, volunteer civil defence,...there are so many volunteer opportunities

 2,924,065 RELA , about 90,000 armed forces, about 90,000 - 100,000 police...

THE powers of the People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) will be outlined in a new law which comes into effect next month. The new Act is aimed at preventing the abuse of power and impersonation of Rela members. Under the new law, which also sets the enrolment age for Rela members at 18 and limits their tenure to five years, they will no longer have the power to detain, arrest or carry firearms. 

PETALING JAYA: A new law to refine the powers of the People's Volunteer Corps (Rela) comes into effect next month with strict measures to curb misuse of authority and impersonation of its members.

Under the Malaysia Volunteers Corps Bill 2012 passed in Parliament on April 20 and expected to be gazetted next month, Rela members would no longer have the power to make arrests or carry firearms.

Anyone found guilty of impersonating a Rela member can be jailed up to three years, fined a maximum of RM5,000 or both.

The law also requires those who are no longer members to return their uniforms and certificate of appointment within 14 days of leaving the corps.

Previously, it was not an offence for them to keep their uniforms even after resigning from the agency.

“Those who fail to return the uniforms and certificate after leaving can now be taken to court,” said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong, adding that the maximum penalty for doing so would also be a prison term of three years, a fine of RM5,000 or both.

The new law also limits the period of enrolment for Rela members to five years, after which, the status of membership has to be renewed by an authorised officer.

Those below the age of 18 would also have their membership revoked under the increased age requirement when the Malaysia Volunteers Corps Act 2012 comes into force from June 22. The existing enrolment age for Rela members is 16 for girls and 17 for boys.

As of March 31, the total number of volunteers in the corps stood at 2,924,065.

Lee said the new law was expected to curb crime cases involving the impersonation of Rela members.

In March last year, police arrested two men who robbed and raped a woman after claiming to be police officers.

Two of their accomplices, including a Rela member who had lent his handcuffs to the duo, were held.

In 2006, robbers masquerading as Rela members drove off with RM47mil worth of microchips from the air cargo complex in Penang.

MCA Public Complaints and Services Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong, who is also an honorary Rela member, welcomed the move to limit the membership to five years saying it would facilitate the management of members.

However, he said making Rela members return their uniforms would not be effective in addressing impersonation.

“If people want to misuse the uniform, they can easily buy it at shops or even online,” he said yesterday.

Chong said there were numerous shops selling uniforms and paraphernalia of all enforcement agencies, complete with their rank.

“This can only be addressed through strict enforcement on the sale of these uniforms,” he said.

Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said there was no reason for former members to hold on to their uniforms.

“We don't want to see people who are no longer Rela members misusing the uniforms to carry out or enforce laws,” he said.

Rela director-general Datuk Mustafa Ibrahim said the Home Minister would be making an official announcement on the Bill and several other laws passed recently.

Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had earlier said in Parliament that the Government had taken the public's views into consideration when drafting the Bill. - Star, 28/5/2012, New law refines Rela powers

 

Volunteer corps still Rela-vant?

QUESTION TIME By P. GUNASEGARAM
t.p.guna@gmail.com


The time has to come to ask whether the three million strong Rela is still relevant to our times and if it should be substantially scaled down.

ONE of the most amazing things about the People’s Volunteer Corps, or Rela, is simply its size – almost three million strong, that’s more than one for every 10 men, women and children who live in Malaysia and may be about the population of core Kuala Lumpur!

In comparison, Armed Forces personnel in Malaysia account for a mere 90,000 while the police account for a like number compared with the 2.94 million Rela members as at March 31, according to news reports.

That means Rela members outnumber Armed Forces personnel by more than 30 to one and both Armed Forces and the police personnel by more than 15 to one.

The circumstances under which it was formed are somewhat vague and why its size increased to become so large is puzzling. It was set up in 1972 under the Emergency Act 1964.

The rationale apparently was after the May 1969 racial riots, they were needed to help the police preserve and maintain national peace and security. But it was some three years after the riots.

In 2005, Rela members had their roles substantially expanded. The amendment of the Essential (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat) Regulations in 2005 expanded Rela’s powers to include the right to bear and use firearms, stop, search and demand documents, arrest without a warrant, and enter premises without a warrant.

These powers can be exercised if Rela members have reasonable belief that any person is a terrorist, undesirable person, illegal immigrant or an occupier. Under the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948, Rela officers are immune from prosecution in relation to their conduct.

Subsequently, there were many reports and allegations about Rela members exceeding their authority, including a recent case where a suspected robber was beaten to death in a condominium.

Reports also cited Rela members as having been involved in crime, while others have impersonated Rela officers to commit crimes.

It was this that probably prompted the Government to revise the laws to restrict the powers of Rela members. It was reported that under the Malaysia Volunteers Corp Bill 2012, passed in Parliament on April 12 and expected to be gazetted next month, Rela members will no longer have the power to carry firearms or make arrests.

Impersonating a Rela officer becomes a crime which is punishable with a fine and a jail sentence of up to three years, while the law requires officers to return their uniforms and certificates of appointment within 14 days of leaving the corp.

These are welcome moves by the Government, but there is also a need to severely restrict and curtail the power of Rela lest it becomes a law unto itself. With its membership outnumbering police and Armed Forces personnel by 15 to one, that is an overriding concern that the Government must address.

To have nearly three million citizens in a volunteer force which has access to arms is clearly undesirable and it is now necessary to ensure that arms held by Rela members are returned according to set procedures so that there is no chance whatsoever of them being misused.

The other factor that needs to be raised is costs. How much does it take to train three million people in the use of firearms and law and order maintenance?

The question that is crying out to be asked is why not use this money to recruit and train full-time policemen who can then be deployed on the streets to fight crime on a daily basis and who will be fully and professionally trained in the use of firearms, the law and crime-fighting?

It may be easily possible to increase the size of the force by, say, 50% and give police personnel more benefits, too.

If it is the intention of the Government to bring a large section of the public into the area of law enforcement, civil defence and as reserve force to protect the country from external threats, then the best way to do that is to go for national service so that all sections of the public are represented in the defence corp.

Otherwise, it would be better for the Government to go the full distance in terms of reforming Rela and make it a much smaller auxiliary force which will merely supplement the police in terms of non-force duties such as traffic control at events and so on.

That will mean a substantial scaling back of Rela so that its size is no more than the size of the police and armed forces combined and its members reflect the population composition of the country.

The first steps have been taken no doubt, but it would be better if reform of Rela went the whole way.

> Independent consultant and writer P. Gunasegaram detests half measures. If something is worth changing, it is worth changing well. -Star, 30/5/2012, Volunteer corps still Rela-vant?

MADPET welcomes move towards abolition of mandatory death penalty for drug offences





Media Statement – 23/10/2012

MADPET welcomes move towards abolition of mandatory
death penalty for drug offences

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) welcomes the Malaysian government move to abolish the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, and hope that this is but a start that will end with a total abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia. We also call for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition especially the lives of about 640 people on death row in Malaysia currently for drug offences.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz stated that Malaysia is considering withdrawing the mandatory death sentence for drug offences and replacing it with jail terms.(Star,21/10/2012, Death penalty may be scrapped for drug offences). It is hoped that this indication becomes reality soonest, and that Malaysia would also renew its efforts to save the lives of about “… 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad, including in China, Venezuela and Peru..”

The Malaysian government also did acknowledge in the past(Star, 1/11/2009, Malaysian girls easily duped), that many of those who ended up being sentenced to death for drug trafficking were generally ‘drug mules’, and not the real drug traffickers.
Malaysia’s past efforts to save lives of Malaysians sentenced to death, including that of young Sabahan, Yong Vui Kong, who was convicted by the Singaporean courts for drug trafficking and sentenced to death, is most appreciated. The removal of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking from the Malaysian law, would certainly add greater credibility and strength to Malaysia’s plea for clemency for its citizens on death row for drug offences in other jurisdictions.

The Malaysian Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, in particular section 39B provides that any person involved in trafficking of drugs shall be guilty of an offence against this Act and shall be punished on conviction with death. The judges and courts, by reason of the mandatory sentence, are deprived of the option of imposing a lesser sentence, and MADPET believes that this is very wrong. We agree with  what the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) stated, amongst others, that the abolition of the mandatory death sentence will also restore to the judiciary the liberty and discretion to determine punishment based on the gravity of the offence as it should always be.

There are presumptions in the Malaysian Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 Act, amongst others, that one ‘…shall be presumed, until the contrary is proved, to be trafficking in the said drug...’ if one is found in the possession of certain amounts of certain drugs. By reason of this legal presumption, the onus of proving one’s innocence then shifts to the accused, and this not only onerous but also unjust. This is also contrary to the normal rules of criminal justice whereby the onus of proving one’s guilt beyond reasonable doubt is always be with the prosecution. We urge the Malaysian government remove these unjust legal presumptions, and return the burden of proving the elements that constitute the offence to the prosecution especially for the offence of drug trafficking.

MADPET reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty, and for an immediate moratorium on all executions pending abolition.


Charles Hector
for Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SUHAKAM: Proposed Review Of The Death Penalty For Drug Offences Is Welcomed

PRESS STATEMENT 

PROPOSED REVIEW OF THE DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG OFFENCES IS WELCOMED 

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) welcomes the proposal to review and ultimately to abolish the mandatory death penalty for drug offenders, as announced by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, which will allow the court the liberty and discretion to determine punishment based on the gravity of the offence.This move is in line with the spirit of Article 3 and Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) respectively that reaffirm the right of a person to life and the right not to be subject to torture, or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. It is also in line with the United Nations General Assembly Resolutions, first adopted in 2007, calling for a moratorium on executions, with a view to eventually abolishing the death penalty. 

The Commission has consistently called for the Government to consider a moratorium on the death penalty or commuting this form of punishment to life imprisonment, especially for those who have been on death row for more than five years. It also wishes to call upon the Government to review the relevance and effectiveness of capital punishment and to join the other 140 UN member states to completely abolish the death penalty. The Commission will continue to support the Government in realising full compliance with international human rights principles and norms specifically the UDHR.

- END -

“HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL”

TAN SRI HASMY AGAM
Chairman
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
22 October 2012

“Hak Asasi Untuk Semua”
“Human Rights For All”

Monday, October 22, 2012

Good that Malaysia may at last abolish the mandatory death penalty

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) reiterates its call for the abolition of the death penalty. It is good that the Malaysian government is seriously looking into the 'possibility' of withdrawing the mandatory death penalty for drug mules.

In Malaysia, when you are found to be in possession drugs above a certain weight, you are presumed in law to be a 'drug trafficker', when the fact of the matter is that these persons are more likely just 'drug mules', and in some cases were even ignorant of the fact that they had any drugs in their possession.  

When drugs are found in your car, your room or in your possession, the law presumes that it is your drugs, and you then have to prove that it is not yours. How exactly would you be able to prove that the drug that was found in your car boot or under your bed was not yours? After all, it could very well have been placed by some other... 

Our current laws concerning drug trafficking is unjust as it relies very much on legal presumptions, rather than placing the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt of all elements that constitute the crime on the prosecution as is done for almost all other crimes. 

Mandatory sentences remove from the judges the discretion when it comes to sentencing, which normally depends not just on the proof of guilt but also other factors and circumstances. A plea of guilty by the accused person normally would result in reduction of the sentence by a third - but alas, when the only available sentence is a mandatory sentence, more so the death penalty, these factors that a judge will normally take into account in sentencing becomes irrelevant.

Mandatory death penalty, as a first step, must be removed from our statute books. Legislative can fix minimum and/or maximum sentences, but the didiscretion as to sentencing must always rest with the judiciary.   


PADANG RENGAS: The Government is looking into the possibility of withdrawing the mandatory death sentence for drug offences and replacing it with jail terms.

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said the Attorney-General's (A-G) Chambers would study the suitability of the move.

“One of the main reasons is because there are close to 250 Malaysians arrested as drug mules and sentenced to death abroad, including in China, Venezuela and Peru.

“It is difficult to justify our appeal to these countries not to hang them when our own country has the mandatory death sentence,” he said in a press conference in Sauk, near here yesterday.

Convicted drug traffickers in the country now face the mandatory death sentence under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Nazri, who is also the de facto Law Minister, said he would need to seek Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's view before discussing the suggestion with the A-G.

“If the Government is going ahead with the suggestion, we need to have a moratorium on death sentences from being carried out for those who are convicted in Malaysia.

“We are considering an alternative of 30 years' jails or more and allowing judges to have discretionary power under the Act,” he said.

On the issue of porn blog duo Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, Nazri said he would refer the matter to the A-G's Chambers.
 
“We need to look into what Malaysian laws they have broken. But also we need to remember that anything that is morally wrong does not necessarily mean that it is legally wrong.

“We definitely do not condone the act. This is what happens when there is absolute freedom of expression,” he said. - Star Online, 21/10/2012, Death penalty may be scrapped for drug offences