Calls renewed to abolish mandatory death penalty for drug offences

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 19 Oct 2021

PETALING JAYA: Calls to abolish the mandatory death penalty for drug-related offences have been renewed following a case where a 55-year-old single mother was sentenced to death for trafficking 113.9g of drugs.

Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM) said that this showed that the nation's drug policies had generally failed.

"Current drug policies have failed to address the underlying socio-economic factors that increase the risks that lead people to use and sell drugs, including ill-health, denial of education, unemployment, lack of housing, poverty and discrimination.

"Malaysia must join 108 countries globally and abolish the death penalty," the human rights group said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 18).

The statement comes after the Tawau High Court on Oct 15 sentenced Hairun Jalmani, 55, to death for possessing and trafficking 113.9g of methamphetamine.

The mother of nine, who is a fish seller, was convicted under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act, which carries the mandatory death sentence.

AIM noted that the recent case was an example where courts have no discretion but to impose death sentences.

"In Malaysia, 95% of all women known to be under death sentence in 2019 were convicted for drug-related offences.

"Women who have been subjected to violence, abuse, and exploitation have little to no chance to get these factors taken into account at sentencing," added AIM.

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman also tweeted that the accused was sentenced to death for possessing just 113g of drugs.

"The high-income sharks very rarely get punished. Those who usually get the heavy sentences are those with hardships and living destitute and desperate lives," he said.

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto also tweeted that most of those on death row were poor and convicted for drug-related offences.

She said that the death penalty did not appear to be a deterrent as there are currently 1,366 people on death row as of September this year.

"Reform (the) criminal justice system and abolish (the) death penalty," she said.

The abolishment of the mandatory death penalty was part of the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto in 2018.

In November 2018, the Perikatan Nasional government announced it was looking as alternatives to the mandatory death penalty.

However, there has yet to be any further development on the matter following the changes of government.

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