On Monday (Mar 27) in Malaysia, Prime Minister’s Department official Azalina Othman tabled the first reading of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 in the Lower House of parliament.
The Bill seeks to abolish the mandatory death penalty and revise the death sentence and imprisonment for natural life.
Ms Azalina stated that the government has researched, studied, and considered this initiative since 2012, with the aim of valuing and respecting the life of every individual while ensuring justice and fairness for all parties, including murder victims, victims of drug trafficking, and their families.
According to a blue copy circulated in parliament on Monday, the Bills aim to substitute the mandatory death penalty with life imprisonment of between 30 and 40 years, as well as caning of between six and 12 strokes, depending on the crime. However, a death sentence can still be imposed at the court’s discretion. Ms Azalina stated that the proposed policies are a middle path to preserve justice for all.
Hope for people in death row.
Once the lawmakers have debated the Bills, people expect them to pass the Bills by next Tuesday.
If the Bills pass, the federal court will enable over 1,300 people currently on death row to seek a review of their sentence. Death row inmates can file an application for a sentence review, but they must do so within 90 days of the new law coming into force, and they can only make this application once. However, the courts may choose to extend the 90-day time frame subject to reasonable grounds.
Ms. Azalina pointed out that the proposed laws would grant jurisdiction to the federal court to review the cases of 840 death row inmates, which includes 25 individuals. The Pardons Board had already rejected the appeals for pardon of these 25 individuals.