PUTRAJAYA: The Government will table the International Transfer of Prisoners (TOP) bill 2012 when parliament reconvenes this Sept 24, in a bid to bring home Malaysians locked up abroad.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the bill, if passed, would also help ease congestion in Malaysian jails where nearly 30% of its occupants are foreign nationals.
The bill, which he described as “significant”, aims to send foreign nationals back to their home countries to finish their jail terms while also providing the same option for Malaysians convicted of crimes overseas to serve their time back home.
“This international transfer of prisoners will be carried out through bilateral relations between both countries that agree to sign an agreement or treaty to carry out the transfer of prisoners between them,” he said in a statement.
As at Aug 31 this year, Malaysian prisons nationwide held 37,157 convicts, of which 10,520 are foreign nationals.
From that figure, 1,758 foreign nationals from 18 countries are eligible to be transferred back to serve time in their home countries.
There are meanwhile 2,622 Malaysians currently serving jail time in 59 countries around the world.
Hishammuddin said six countries have so far stated an interest in setting up a TOP with Malaysia, including the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Pakistan, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia.
He pointed out, however, that an international transfer could only work if four conditions were fulfilled.
Aside from the country in question having already signed a treaty with Malaysia, the convict's sentence must be final with all avenues for appeal exhausted.
The conviction must also fall under the category of dual criminality, which means it is an offence in both countries, and the remainder of the jail term must be more than six months from the date of application.
“This bill will give a positive impact on families as it will make it easier for them to visit and help rehabilitate convicts, on the effectiveness of rehabilitation programmes due to a more conducive environment in terms of culture, religion and language, and in terms of international practice as 86 countries have already implemented it,” Hishammuddin said.
Currently Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam and Laos are the only Asean countries that practice TOP.
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