PETALING JAYA: The Government should consider whether its review of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking should include making it retrospective on pending cases, said social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye (pic).
Lee said the proposal for the review under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act was timely as this could help prevent a “travesty of justice”.
Judges, he said, must be given the discretion to mete out suitable sentences on a case by case basis, especially for drug mules.
“While supporting the review of Section 39B, I also hope that the Government will address the issue raised by lawmakers and legal practitioners, including whether the move, if approved, could have a retrospective effect on pending death penalty cases,” he said in a statement here yesterday.
He also called on the Government to decide whether a moratorium should be imposed on pending cases so as to ensure justice for those facing such charges.
Lee was responding to a report in The Star that lawyers and human rights groups had called for all pending executions to be put on hold while the decision by the Government to review the death penalty for drug trafficking was being deliberated.
Last week, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said that the review would enable judges to mete out suitable sentences in marginal cases where the offenders could be jailed instead.
She said the review was presented to the Cabinet on March 1 by Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali.
Lee said at the same time, authorities must intensify efforts to reduce drug trafficking, addiction and other drug-related crimes through preventive education, adding that “prevention is always better than cure”.
Citing a report from Amnesty International, he said the death penalty should only be used for the “most serious crimes” like murder.
“It (the report) says that drug crime does not meet that threshold. Various United Nations bodies have repeatedly said that it falls short of the ‘most serious crimes’,” he pointed out.