Azalina: Cabinet agrees to continue reviewing laws related to mandatory death penalty

KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet on Wednesday (Dec 21) agreed to continue with reviewing laws related to the mandatory death penalty, says Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (pic).

In a statement on Wednesday, she said the Attorney General's Chambers had examined the implementation of policy of the proposed alternative sentence against the mandatory death penalty involving 11 offences that carried the mandatory death penalty as provided in the Penal Code and the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 and 23 offences that carried the mandatory death penalty subject to Court discretion under the Penal Code, the Arms Act 1960, the Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 and the Kidnapping Act 1961.

She said the government had also agreed to amend related acts and presented seven related Bills for amendment.

The Bills in question were the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Kidnapping (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Firearms (Increased Penalties) (Amendment) Bill 2022, the Arms (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2022.

"The moratorium is still maintained for death penalty offenders until all amendments to the bill are implemented.

"The implementation of alternative sentence to the mandatory death penalty is expected to have a direct impact on a total of 1,327 prisoners who have been sentenced to death by the court while for other individuals who have not been accused, alternative punishment to the death penalty can be enforced prospectively," she said.

Azalina said the relevant legal amendments however did not abolish the death penalty entirely but gave discretion to the court to decide the appropriate punishment based on the facts of the case.

"The implementation of this alternative sentence proposal is the government's commitment to ensure that the implementation of the abolition of the mandatory death penalty is scrutinised in depth and in detail from all aspects so that any follow-up action by the government related to this issue will have a positive impact on the country," she said.

She said the bills related to the abolition of the mandatory death penalty were expected to be tabled in the Parliament sitting in February next year (2023).

Azalina said the criminal justice system was the main foundation for a safe and peaceful society and therefore, the government would also consider a phase two follow-up study involving the reform of the criminal justice system.

It covered things like a more effective sentencing policy, whipping and reform of the prison system which includes measures to reduce prison overcrowding.

"Focus will also be given to a punishment approach based on rehabilitation and restorative justice," she said.

In the meantime, Azalina who presented the proposed alternative sentence to the mandatory death penalty to the Cabinet on Wednesday also expressed her gratitude to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the Cabinet for their agreement. - Bernama

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