High judicial errors and inconsistencies

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 04 Nov 2018

CAPITAL punishment cases in Malaysia are blighted by a high incidence of judicial errors and inconsistencies, a study indicated, suggesting the need for the abolition of capital punishment.

According to the study by the Penang Institute, 27.7% or more than a quarter of High Court cases were overturned by the Court of Appeal while the Federal Court overturned the judgement for half of the 20 cases heard at the Court of Appeal.

For cases involving drugs, 34.7% of the High Court decisions were revised in the Court of Appeal, while for murder cases 22.6% of them were overturned.

The study found that 29% of the decisions were overturned because of evidence; 14.3% overturned because of technicalities and 7.7% overturned due to both factors mentioned.

The analysis took into account 289 cases from three major online sources of legal publication databases.

The studied cases were reported from 2013 to June 2018 and involved mostly drug trafficking and murder cases, with a few cases for Waging War and for Firearms related cases.

The study also found that revision rates differed across ethnic and nationality.

For example, non-Malaysians have a twice lowered probability of having Court of Appeal decisions for drug related cases revised or overruled compared to Malaysians.

For murder cases, judicial errors in the Court of Appeal were found to be much higher among the Malays (28.8%) and non-Malaysians (27.3%), while Chinese and Indians, had a 10% lower chance of having their decisions overturned.

It was also found that the High Courts in certain states have higher revision or judicial error rates than others.

Barring the states with less than 10 cases, High Court cases in Johor (44.0%), Penang (42.9%), KL (38.9%) and Sarawak (31.0%) have higher revision rates than the national average of 27.7%.

“The disparity provides further justification for the abolition of capital punishment, and signifies that the legal system needs to be reformed to encourage restorative justice instead of retributive justice,” noted the study that was published on Tuesday.

In October, de facto law minister Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the Cabinet had decided to abolish the death penalty, with a moratorium for those on earth row.

However, in a recent survey of 3600 respondents conducted by The Star Online, almost half of Malaysians surveyed were against the Cabinet’s plan to abolish the death penalty.

About 45% felt the death penalty was needed to keep hardcore criminals at bay while 32% said it was still needed for violent crimes, especially crimes against children.

Only 23% fully supported the total removal of the death penalty, saying it has no place in modern society.

For the full study, go to:


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Courts & Crime , Politics , death penalty


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