Respa calls on govt to clear the air over abolishment of death penalty

PETALING JAYA: The Retired Senior Police Officers Association of Malaysia (Respa) has called on the government to "clear the air" over the status of implementing the abolishment of the death penalty.

"There is no mention of the fate of about more than 1,200 condemned prisoners and whether the Bill to amend those laws carrying mandatory death sentence, such as the Penal Code, Fire Arms (Increase Penalty Act) and Dangerous Drug Act are ready to be tabled in Parliament," said its president, Tan Sri Ismail Che Rus.

Nevertheless, he said the death sentence could be retained to give clear warning to both Malaysian citizens and foreigners that certain offenses are serious enough to warrant the death penalty.

"However, the discretion to award punishment of death or life sentence in jail must be given to the presiding judge who is the best person to apply the law based on facts before the court.

"The perpetrator(s) of premeditated killing of a police officer whilst on duty for example deserve hanging, whilst a drug mule found guilty of trafficking dangerous drug could be sentenced to life imprisonment although the judge could impose the capital punishment, instead of depending on multitude of reasons and circumstances," he said in a statement on Sunday (July 14).

The degree of punishment to be meted out against an offense was best left to the judges' wisdom, he added.

On preventive laws, Ismail said the association reiterates its position of supporting the government on retaining the Security Offences Special Measures (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), albeit with amendments.

"The country is still facing clear and present danger from terrorist organisations operating from within and outside the country, organised crime syndicates and secret societies.

"Although the police force is well equipped with professionals and assets to face these threats under normal laws, but applying preventive laws, when required, have proven to be effective in the protection of the country's wellbeing and security in the past," he said.

The association is also aware that the public are calling for the removal of certain provisions in those laws to make them more in tune with human rights' norm, he added.

In October last year, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong said that the Cabinet had decided to abolish the death penalty with a moratorium for those on death row.

In March, however, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (in charge of law) Mohamed Hanipa Maidin announced in Parliament that the government was proposing to introduce sentencing discretion for 11 offences under the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act, 1971, which currently carry the mandatory death penalty.

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