PM: Death penalty stays but judges given discretion

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The “mandatory” part will be removed.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today explained that the death penalty will remain and not be abolished, but added that now judges are given discretion in handing down sentences.

He was responding to Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar’s statement that the government has agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty and substitute it with other sentences subject to court discretion.

Ismail Sabri said the “mandatory” part will be removed and judges will no longer be bound by the word, which previously left them with no choice but to impose the capital punishment on criminals in certain cases, such as drug trafficking.

“We are of the view that everyone deserves a second chance.

“If there are options (of sentences) and if the offender is found to be a hardcore drug trafficker to the extent of causing hundreds of thousands of people to die (due to drugs), he can be sentenced to death.


“However, if the judge feels that the offender should be given a second chance and sentenced to life imprisonment with whipping, he can do so.”

Ismail Sabri said for example, section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 provides for the mandatory death penalty upon conviction, which leaves a judge with no choice but to impose the capital punishment although several factors can be considered.

“The case may involve an 18-year-old. The judge may find him ‘trapped’ as drugs are found in his bag and he cannot prove that they belong to someone else.

“(Previously) the court will have to send him to the gallows though the judge feels the accused is a young man who should be given a second chance.

“We have to understand that the death penalty will remain and not abolished. It is just that it will no longer be mandatory.”

Although the government has agreed in principle to abolish the mandatory part of the death penalty, the matter still needs to be scrutinised, he added.

Earlier report:

Jun 10, Govt to abolish mandatory death penalty