Dewan passes amendments to abolish mandatory death penalty

KUALA LUMPUR: Amendments in relation to the abolition of the mandatory death penalty have been approved by the Dewan Rakyat.

The amendments were introduced via the tabling of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 for the second and third reading by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Ramkarpal Singh in Parliament on Monday (April 3).

The Bill was passed via a voice vote after 10 MPs debated on it, followed by a winding-up speech by Ramkarpal.

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Ramkarpal said the abolition of the mandatory death penalty did not mean that capital punishment was being totally abolished.

"The death penalty is still maintained in certain cases. We need to have confidence in the judiciary in deciding based on their discretion," said Ramkarpal.

The Bill also proposed to allow judges the option to impose jail terms of up to 40 years instead of the death penalty.

Earlier, Ramkarpal said that statistics around the world have shown that the absence of the death penalty showed no increase in crime rates compared to having capital punishment in place.

Ramkarpal also said the government had met with the families of murder victims to get their opinion on the Bill.

"In fact, a committee led by the former chief justice had also conducted studies and met with the families of victims.

"So, the government has taken into account the views of both sides – those pro-abolition and those against it – before making a decision," said Ramkarpal.

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He added that the decision took into account factors such as the feelings of the victims’ families, whether or not the death penalty is proportionate with the crime, and the basic human rights of an offender, among others.

The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 was tabled for first reading by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Ohman Said on March 27.

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