Ramkarpal: Bill related to abolition of mandatory death penalty to be tabled next month

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The bill related to the abolition of the mandatory death penalty in the country will be tabled for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat next month.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh said the bill was expected to be passed in April and gazetted by May.

“When it is gazetted, those affected (convicts) can file their application (to use the provisions under the bill) at the Federal Court with the help from lawyers and the Prisons Department,” he told reporters after visiting the Kajang Prison today.

Ramkarpal said a total of 1,320 prisoners sent to the gallows or sentenced to natural life imprisonment will be affected when the bill is gazetted.

He said the application will go through court processes and that the sentences will not be automatically reduced.

“The court will hear not only from the accused or those who have been convicted, but the victims and families will also have the opportunity to present factors that will be brought to the court’s attention through the attorney-general or the deputy public prosecutor.


“The Federal Court will look at the case one by one to determine whether the death penalty should be replaced, and this applies to those who were already sent to the gallows for sentenced to natural life imprisonment,” he said.

Ramkarpal said the new law will have an impact on these prisoners in terms of rehabilitation and at the same time, open up opportunities for them to re-enter the community.

Earlier, the deputy minister participated in a dialogue with seven death-row and life-sentenced prisoners to hear their opinions on the proposed abolition of the mandatory death penalty.

During the dialogue, the prisoners aged between 38 and 66 also expressed happiness about the government’s effort to abolish the mandatory death penalty.

Mohamad (not his real name), 45, who was convicted for a drug offence, said he was now serving the 23rd year of his natural life imprisonment.

“Give us a chance to be with our families,” he said.

Mohamad said most of the death row or life-sentenced prisoners are aged over 60 now and deserved a second chance.

On June 10 last year, the then-ruling government agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty and to substitute it with other sentences which are subject to the discretion of the court.

The decision was reached following the presentation of the Report on Substitute Sentences for the Mandatory Death Penalty at the cabinet meeting on June 8.