978 out of 1,020 death row and natural life imprisonment inmates have applied to have their sentence reviewed since Nov 9, said the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said (picture).
Based on the latest data, the Office of the Chief Registrar of the Federal Court of Malaysia disclosed it has received a total of 871 applications for death sentence review and 117 applications for natural life imprisonment review respectively under the Revision of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act.
“The unity government wishes to reiterate that the death penalty is still retained as a punishment for criminal offences under Malaysia’s criminal justice system.
“However the imposition of the death penalty is no longer mandatory and the amendments to the law have now given judges the liberty to use their discretion to mete out the appropriate punishment.
“This matter is in line with the government’s commitment to give a second chance to death row inmates and allow them to continue their livelihood as a common citizen,” she said in a statement today.
This morning, seven prisoners on death row for offences under Section 39B Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 for drug trafficking have undergone a review.
Azalina added the life terms of four other prisoners were also reviewed under the same Act.
Both of these reviews were carried out at the Federal Court in Putrajaya, after the review was agreed by the Cabinet following an engagement session held by the Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU, JPM) together with the Chief Registrar’s Office of the Federal Court (PKPMP), Prisons Department (JPN), Legal Aid Foundation (YBGK), Malaysian Bar Council (Bar Council), Sabah Law Society (SLS) and Advocates Association of Sarawak (AAS).
“Today is a historic day for our country because applications for the Review of Death Sentences and Life Imprisonment (Federal Court Provisional Jurisdiction) were heard at the Federal Court, Putrajaya.
“This proves that the principle of restorative justice in the criminal justice system in Malaysia is always maintained,” she said.
The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act allows the courts to now have the option of choosing between giving a death sentence or other alternatives for certain offences, including the offence of murder.
Under this new law, murder is now punishable with either the death penalty; or the alternative of between 30 and 40 years’ jail and whipping of not less than 12 strokes. – TMR / pic TMR FILE