Monday, March 27, 2017

UMNO-BN must trust Judges to pronounce right sentences - Repeal Mandatory Death Penalty

UMNO-BN government just do not trust Malaysian judges - so through laws, they create mandatory death penalty - no chance for the judges to exercise their discretion when it comes to sentencing. To those who really do not deserve, and to those who really deserve - execution....kill them all. Justice - I do not think it is. Our values and principles - well, certainly not - our objective must be the reform of the criminal, not the extinguishing of his/her life.. 

Well, after a long time, Najib's Cabinet seem agreeable to the abolition of the death penalty for drug offences. Why stop there? Abolish all mandatory death penalty....Why is the UMNO-BN government not ready to do this? 

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman, the new de facto Law Minister, during the Parliamentary session on 2/11/2016 clarified that Malaysia was not just looking at the mandatory death penalty, but all death penalty. They were considering possibly replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment. It was indicated that further studies were to be done, and that. "The decision on the implementation of the death penalty in this country, either be repealed or maintained, is a policy matter to be decided by the government based on the results of the study,"(The Sun Daily, 3/11/2016)

In fact, abolish all death penalty - if we believe in repentance, mercy and reform...It has many times been pointed out that our administration of justice system can make mistakes, and it is greatly unjust to hang an 'innocent' man. 

Islam - well, here we are talking about death penalty and mandatory death penalty in what is not Islamic law. So, I am sure that Muslims will also not object to the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia...

MORATORIUM - no executions until the government completes its study whether to abolish the death penalty or not. No reasonable country will continue killing persons when the country may tomorrow abolish the death penalty...Our Minister in Charge, , have told us that Malaysia is studying 


Sunday, 26 March 2017

Ex-judges want review of mandatory death penalty

PETALING JAYA: The proposed amendments to review the mandatory death sentence for drug trafficking will give judges wider discretion when deciding if a person is to hang, says former chief justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim.

He said giving judges leeway for dis­­cretion would be a positive move in some circumstances.

“There are some situations where a crime might not warrant the death penalty. If this amendment is allowed, judges would be able to use their own discretion,” he said when met after a legal lecture he delivered yesterday.

He was responding to the Cabi­net’s agreement to review the Dange­rous Drugs Act 1952 to allow judges to use their discretion in sentencing offenders instead of impo­sing the mandatory death sentence.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Oth­man Said, who made the announcement last week, said the review would enable judges to mete out suitable sentences in marginal ca­­­ses where offenders could be jailed instead.

She said the review was presented to the Cabinet on March 1 by Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Ahmad Fairuz said during his time on the Federal Court bench, the duty of having to sentence a man to death weighed on the conscience.

Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who was a former minister in charge of law, said judges would have the option to mete out suitable senten­ces on a case-by-case basis.

“We always worry that judges do not have other options than the man­datory death sentence. In some cases, there is not much evidence, but the judges have no other options but to give the death penalty,” he said.

Nazri said the move to give jud­ges more discretion over the death penalty in drug trafficking cases was long overdue.

He said the proposed amendments to provide such discretionary powers to judges had come during his tenure when he was in charge of the law portfolio.

“When I was the minister, there were about 240 Malaysians who are suspected to be drug mules all over the world. Some of their family members came to see me personally and pleaded for leniency.

“We also can use this to negotiate with other governments who have arrested Malaysians suspected to be drug mules,” he added.

Nazri said another factor that was considered was that there were cases that judges who do not wish to mete out death sentences in drug trafficking cases.

“Some judges do not believe in the death penalty. So when the case comes before them, although there was enough evidence to impose a conviction, they will find some technicality to acquit the person,” he said.

Former court of appeal judge Da­­tuk Mah Weng Kwai, who is also Su­hakam commissioner, is in fa­­vour of abolishing the death penalty.

“As for sentencing in cases of Section 39(B) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, I believe that the grant of judicial discretion to judges is a step forward,” he said.

Senior criminal law practitioner Kitson Foong said the move would address cases of drug mules where the offender might be an innocent carrier.

“This will be a good opportunity for the court to spare the life of an individual who has been used by drug cartels,” he said.- Star, 25/3/2017

Monday, 27 March 2017

Lam Thye suggests moratorium on death penalty cases

PETALING JAYA: The Government should consider whether its review of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking should include making it retrospective on pending cases, said social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).

Lee said the proposal for the review under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act was timely as this could help prevent a “travesty of justice”.

Judges, he said, must be given the discretion to mete out suitable sentences on a case by case basis, especially for drug mules.

“While supporting the review of Section 39B, I also hope that the Government will address the issue raised by lawmakers and legal practitioners, including whether the move, if approved, could have a retrospective effect on pending death penalty cases,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

He also called on the Government to decide whether a moratorium should be imposed on pending cases so as to ensure justice for those facing such charges.

Lee was responding to a report in The Star that lawyers and human rights groups had called for all pending executions to be put on hold while the decision by the Government to review the death penalty for drug trafficking was being deliberated.

Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said that the review would enable judges to mete out suitable sentences in marginal cases where the offenders could be jailed instead.

She said the review was presented to the Cabinet on March 1 by Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.

Lee said at the same time, authorities must intensify efforts to reduce drug trafficking, addiction and other drug-related crimes through preventive education, adding that “prevention is always better than cure”.

Citing a report from Amnesty International, he said the death penalty should only be used for the “most serious crimes” like murder.

“It (the report) says that drug crime does not meet that threshold. Various United Nations bodies have repeatedly said that it falls short of the ‘most serious crimes’,” he pointed out.


Press Release | Judicial Discretion is a Positive Step Towards Abolition of the Death Penalty

Saturday, 25 March 2017 10:57am
ImageThe Malaysian Bar welcomes the announcement by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of legal affairs YB Dato’ Sri Azalina Othman Said that, following a presentation by Attorney General Tan Sri Dato’ Sri Haji Mohamed Apandi Haji Ali, the Cabinet has agreed to review Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, with a view to removing the mandatory death penalty and restoring judicial discretion in sentencing.  It has been reported that the Minister has directed that the necessary legislative amendments be drafted.  

It is prudent and just that the decision regarding whether to impose the death penalty be left to the discretion of the Judge.  The statutory imposition of the mandatory punishment prohibits Judges from considering mitigating factors and circumstances that surround each case, before sentencing.  Such mitigating factors can 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.  Furthermore, studies have shown that there is no conclusive evidence of the deterrent value of the death penalty, particularly in respect of drug offences. 

Given the imminent amendments to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, the Malaysian Bar renews our call to the Government to officially declare and implement a moratorium on all pending executions.  In the interest of justice and fairness, no executions should be carried out when reforms are in progress.  It is only right that when the reforms come into effect, they should be applied retrospectively.

While the proposed review relates only to the mandatory death penalty as provided in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, the Malaysian Bar reiterates that the death penalty is an extreme, abhorrent and inhumane punishment, irrespective of the crime committed.  There are also provisions for the imposition of the mandatory death penalty in the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, and of the discretionary death penalty in the Kidnapping Act 1961.

The Malaysian Bar calls upon the Government to act swiftly to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and to uphold the right to life, which is absolute, universal and inalienable.

George Varughese
Malaysian Bar 

25 March 2017

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