Government to abolish mandatory death penalty

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The government has agreed to abolish the mandatory death sentence, giving discretionary power to the courts, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said today.

He said the decision was made after a presentation of a report on substitute sentences at a cabinet meeting on June 8.

The government has also in principle, accepted the recommendation of the special committee on substitute sentences to mandatory death penalty.

The committee was headed by former Chief Justice of Malaysia Richard Malanjun, and other legal experts and criminologists.

“The cabinet has agreed that a further study will be carried out on the proposed substitute punishment for 11 offences carrying the mandatory death penalty, one offence under section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, and 22 offences carrying the death penalty but with discretion of the court,” Wan Junaidi said in a statement.


“The study will be carried out by the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the prime minister’s department and other ministries.”

This is significant in ensuring that the amendment to any act will take into account the principles of proportionality and constitutionality, he said.

Wan Junaidi said the government will also be looking into the direction of the criminal justice system, especially establishing procedures such as pre-sentencing-procedure, setting up a sentencing council, sentencing guidelines, setting up a law commission, prison reform and restorative justice.

“This shows that the government wants to ensure that the rights of all individuals are preserved while also improving the country’s criminal justice system.”

Malaysia declared a moratorium on all death sentences in July 2018 as agreed to at the United Nations General Assembly.

According to data from Amnesty International, there have been 469 executions since 1957.

There are currently 1,281 convicts on death row across 26 detention facilities nationwide, of whom 73% were convicted for drug trafficking under section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952. – TMI