Rights Groups Urge AG to Review Jailing of Disabled Man Who Attempted Suicide

- Advertisement - [resads_adspot id="2"]

Human rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has called on the Attorney-General’s Chambers to review the case of a disabled man who was jailed for attempting suicide.

“In the interest of the accused person and the larger public interest, we, therefore, call upon the attorney-general to immediately review the case and refer the matter to the High Court so that the conviction and sentence can be quashed,” said LFL director Melissa Sasidaran.

Melissa added that the prosecution of the disabled person went against the government’s intent to decriminalise suicide.

“The discretion to prosecute must be exercised properly and per the circumstances of the case.

Lim Huey Teng/Malaysiakini

“We are perplexed as to how this case was prosecuted and tried when it is clear there is no public interest to be served by prosecuting a person who is clearly in dire need of assistance, and such travesty can only worsen his situation,” she said.

She also noted that the prosecution was conducted by a senior police officer instead of a deputy public prosecutor.

“We urge that this practice of prosecution conducted by senior police officers be reviewed to prevent the recurrence of such unwarranted prosecution,” she said.

While it is not common, a senior police officer, with written authorisation from the public prosecutor, can prosecute cases in a magistrate’s court under Section 377)(b) of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Society (Hakam) secretary-general Lim Wei Jiet said the charges should not have been instituted in the first place.

“There is a serious lack of compassion and humanity in the criminal justice system if a disabled man who has reached such a desperate position in life is punished even further with a jail term,” he said in a statement.

“The law should not only be concerned with penalties but must be tempered with mercy and kindness.

“Hakam calls for the disabled man to be given psychiatric assistance in a suitable institution and not imprisonment where his mental health would likely deteriorate further.”

Lim also called on the government to repeal Section 309 of the Penal Code.

“Malaysia is one of the only few countries which still retain this archaic law in our statute books. This recent conviction encapsulates everything that is wrong with such law,” he said.

A magistrate’s court in Terengganu yesterday sentenced a disabled man who tried to kill himself to six months in prison.

Magistrate Nordiana Abd Aziz handed the sentence to 38-year-old Mohamad Sani Isa, who pleaded guilty under Section 309 of the Penal Code. He was not represented by a lawyer.

Section 309 states “whoever attempts to commit suicide and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine or with both”.

Mohamad Sani was charged for trying to hang himself with nylon rope from a ceiling at a house in Kuala Nerus on Dec 23 last year.

The report said Mohamad Sani was depressed.

De facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong also weighed in on the matter saying that it was a very worrying verdict.


“Attempted suicide or any form of self-harm for that matter is a mental health condition and must be treated medically. These individuals must be provided necessary access to mental healthcare and be cared for as patients not prisoners.”

Liew referred to the announcement last year that the government is studying the decriminalisation of suicide.

“We remain firm in seeing this through. The Attorney-General’s Chambers has been actively reviewing how this may be holistically undertaken by the government.

“There must first be sustainable and viable mechanisms in place for these individuals to access mental healthcare before the law is amended to decriminalise suicide.”

“Based on current progress, and subject to approval from Cabinet, I am hopeful that we will see the amendments to Penal Code decriminalising suicide tabled by the middle of this year,” said Liew. – Malaysiakini