De facto Law Minister: Govt agrees to abolish mandatory death penalty

Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar

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KUCHING, June 10: The government has agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty, with a substitute sentence at the judges’ discretion.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Dato Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the decision was reached following the presentation of the Report on the Study of Substitute Sentences on Mandatory Death Penalty in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday (June 8).

“The Cabinet has agreed for a further study to be carried out on the proposed substitute sentences for 11 offences carrying the mandatory penalty, one offence under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (Act 234) and 22 offences carrying the death penalty but at the discretion of the Court,” he said in a statement issued today.

This further study will be carried out in collaboration with the Attorney General’s Chambers, Legal Affairs Division, Prime Minister’s Department, and other relevant ministries and departments.

“The government has also, in principle, accepted and took note of the recommendations of the Special Committee on Substitute Sentences on Mandatory Death Penalty, which were explained through the study report,” he added.

The Committee is headed by former Chief Justice Tun Richard Malajum and comprises legal experts, including the former Chief Justice of Malaya, former solicitor-general, legal practitioners, law lecturers from leading institutions, and criminologists.

Wan Junaidi mentioned that the government would also study the feasibility of the direction of the Criminal Justice System, such as the establishment of a pre-sentencing procedure, the establishment of a Sentencing Council, the development of Sentencing Guidelines, the establishment of a Law Commission, prison reform, and the implementation of sentences based on restorative justice.

“This decision shows that the government’s priority is to ensure the rights of all parties are protected and guaranteed, thus reflecting the transparency of the country’s leadership in improving the country’s dynamic criminal justice system.

“This action is significant to ensure that the amendments to the relevant Acts take into account the principles of ‘proportionality’ and constitutionality of any proposal to the government later,” he emphasised.

Wan Junaidi also expressed the government’s appreciation for the commitment given by the Special Committee in producing this report, which will be the basis for more systematic and effective change in the country’s criminal justice system. — DayakDaily