Sarawak, Sabah to try using artificial intelligence to help sentence certain criminal offences

  • Nation
  • Friday, 17 Jan 2020

KUCHING: The courts in Sabah and Sarawak will pilot the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in determining appropriate sentences for certain criminal offences.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri David Wong said data analysis by the AI application would serve as a guideline to judicial officers in deciding on sentences.

He said this aimed to improve efficiency and ensure consistency in sentencing.

"Every time the court passes a sentence, there are always complaints that there is a disparity or inconsistency.

"With this, hopefully we will have consistent sentences being meted out by the court, and not one magistrate giving a fine and another giving two years' imprisonment," he said during a demonstration of the AI application after the opening of the legal year in Sabah and Sarawak here on Friday (Jan 17).

The AI pilot project will be used for two offences, drug possession under Section 12 of the Dangerous Drugs Act and rape under Section 376 of the Penal Code.

The application will analyse data for these offences gathered from cases registered in Sabah and Sarawak from 2014 to 2019.

It will also analyse relevant information and pre-determined parameters, such as the age of the accused, type and weight of drugs in cases of drug possession or the age of victim and whether hurt was caused in rape offences to come up with a recommended sentence.

Wong said the judiciary was now in the process of creating ground rules for the use of the application, including making known to the accused and their lawyers what the likely sentence would be if they plead guilty.

He said the rules should be ready in a week or so.

Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat said it was timely for the judiciary to move along with technological advancement.

"I don't see a reason why we should not embark on this. But of course we cannot rely 100% on technology, so there must be a human element as well.

"This is a pilot project and as we go along, we'll see how it needs to be improved or otherwise," she said.

Earlier, Tengku Maimun led some 1,000 judges, legal officers and lawyers from Sabah and Sarawak from the Sarawak Legislative Assembly complex to the Kuching court complex to mark the opening of the legal year.

Also in attendance were Court of Appeal president Datuk Rohana Yusuf, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Malaysian Attorney-General Tan Sri Tommy Thomas, Sarawak Attorney-General Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid and Sarawak Speaker Datuk Amar Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.

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