KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — The government has agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty and to substitute it with other sentences which are subject to the discretion of the court.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the decision was reached after he presented the Report on Substitute Sentences for the Mandatory Death Penalty at the Cabinet meeting last Wednesday.
“The government has also agreed in principle to accept and take note of the recommendations made by the Special Committee on Substitute Sentences for the Mandatory Death Penalty as explained in the report,” he said in a statement here today.
The Committee is led by former Chief Justice Tun Richard Malanjum and comprises legal experts such as a former Chief Judge of Malaya, a former Solicitor-General, legal practitioners, a law lecturer and a criminologist.
Wan Junaidi said the Cabinet also agreed that further study be carried out on the proposed substitute sentence for 11 offences carrying the mandatory death penalty, one of which is under section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (Act 234) and 22 offences carrying the death penalty but with the discretion of the court.
Wan Junaidi said the study would be carried out in collaboration with the Attorney-General’s Chambers, the Legal Affairs Division of the Prime Minister’s Department and other relevant ministries and departments.
He said the move was highly significant to ensure that all amendments to the relevant laws would take into account the principles of proportionality and constitutionality of any proposal made to the government later.
The minister said the government will also carry out a feasibility study on the direction of the criminal justice system in the country, such as having pre-sentencing procedures, a sentencing council and a sentencing guideline.
Also to be studied is the setting up of a Law Commission, Prison Reform and the execution of sentences based on restorative justice.
“The decision on this matter shows the government’s emphasis on ensuring the rights of all parties are protected and guaranteed, thus reflecting the transparency of the country’s leadership in improving the country’s criminal justice system,” he said.
Wan Junaidi added that the government had also expressed appreciation for the commitment given by the committee in producing the report which will be the basis for a more systematic and effective change in the country’s criminal justice system.