Malaysian Bar calls for moratorium, review of death sentences
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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 5 — The Malaysian Bar urged Putrajaya today to further amend the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) to allow convicts to seek a review of their death sentences under new provisions to the law, along with a moratorium on executions.
Malaysian Bar president George Varughese also expressed concern that judges may still be constrained in exercising their discretion on sentencing, despite the removal of a clause that would have made this contingent on the prosecution’s support.
The DDA was amended by Dewan Rakyat last week to remove the mandatory death penalty, handing discretion to judges when sentencing drug traffickers, but which implored the judiciary to consider mitigating factors when doing so.
“We are concerned that judges are being limited in their consideration of the mitigating factors and circumstances that surround each case, before sentencing,” Varughese said in a statement.
“A person’s right to life is a fundamental right, not a privilege that can be revoked if that person is deemed not sufficiently ‘useful’ to an enforcement agency,” he added.
The amendment also did not apply retroactively, prompting the Malaysian Bar’s proposal now.
Varughese also reiterated today that the Bar’s position was that no offence should attract capital punishment.
“The Malaysian Bar calls upon the government to act without delay to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, and to uphold the right to life, which is absolute, universal and inalienable,” he said.