Bills tabled to abolish mandatory death sentence, criminalise live-streaming sex involving children


KUALA LUMPUR: Four crucial Bills were tabled in Dewan Rakyat to pave the way for the abolition of the mandatory death sentence while also criminalising live-streaming sex involving children.

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department in charge of law and institutional reforms Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (pic) tabled the Bills for their first reading on Monday (March 27).

Among them, Azalina tabled the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 and the Revision of Sentences of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Bill 2023.

The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 proposes to abolish the mandatory death sentences for 11 offences with the court having the discretion to impose the death sentences or life imprisonment between 30 and 40 years and not more than 12 strokes of the rotan.

The Bill also proposes to do away with the court's discretion to impose death sentences for 10 offences and replace it with a punishment of imprisonment between 30 and 40 years including not more than six strokes of the rotan.

The Bill proposes to do away with the term "imprisonment for natural life".

The proposed laws under the Revision of Sentences of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Bill 2023, if passed, will act retrospectively.

It will allow the court to revise the sentences of 840 death row inmates and 25 others who had failed in the appeal for clemency to the pardons board.

The revision of the death sentences will also apply to 476 death row inmates who are in the process of appealing for clemency.

The Bill also will allow the court to revise the natural life prison sentences imposed on 117 prisoners.

Of this, 47 are currently serving their natural life sentences while 70 had their death sentences commuted following appeals to the pardons board.

Azalina also tabled Sexual Offences Against Children (Amendment) Bill 2023 and Evidence of Child Witness (Amendment) Bill 2023 for their first reading.

The first Bill will make live-streaming sex and online sextortion involving children a crime.

Those convicted of live-streaming sex involving children can face a jail term not exceeding 20 years and RM50,000 fine while those convicted of sextortion can be jailed up to 10 years.

The proposed law will also replace the term "child pornography" with "child abuse sexual material" in the parent Act.

The court is also empowered to make convicted perpetrators pay compensation to their victims.

Meanwhile, the proposed amendment to the Evidence of Child Witness (Amendment) Bill 2023 will increase the age of a child witness from 16 to 18.

The amendments will also allow the court to order that evidence of a child witness may be given by way of a special hearing where the child may not be recalled for re-examination.

A child witness or child offender may also provide evidence at a special hearing by means of "having a screen between them" and the accused person or via a live link or a combination of both.

The proposed law will also prevent a child witness from being badgered in court with insulting, intimidating, harassing, annoying, oppressive or needlessly repetitive questions.

Azalina informed Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Ramli Mohd Nor that the four Bills will be tabled for second reading in the current meeting.

The Dewan Rakyat meeting, which began on Feb 13, is scheduled to end on April 4.

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