Bill for Abolition of the Mandatory Death Penalty Expected to be Approved in April

BY: Michelle Liew

The bill (RUU) related to the abolition of the mandatory death penalty will be presented for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat this March.

Deputy Minister of Law and Institutional Reform Ramkarpal Singh said he expected the bill to be brought to the National Assembly for approval in April before being gazetted in May.

"When the law is gazetted, those affected can make an application in the Federal Court with the help of lawyers and the Prison Department," he said after visiting Kajang Prison here today.

He said a total of 1,320 prisoners sentenced to death or life imprisonment will be affected when the bill is gazetted.

He said the application will go through the court process and not automatically reduce the prisoner's sentence.

"The court will hear not only from the accused or those who have been convicted but the victims and families will have the opportunity to present factors that will be brought to the court's attention through the Attorney General or Deputy Public Prosecutor.

"The Federal Court will look at each case to determine whether the hanging sentence should be replaced, and this applies to those serving a hanging sentence or life imprisonment," he said.

Ramkarpal said the new law will have an impact on prisoners in terms of rehabilitation and thus open opportunities for them to re-enter society.

Earlier, he held a dialogue session with seven terminal and lifelong prisoners to hear their views on the abolition of the mandatory death penalty.

At the session, prisoners aged between 38 and 66 who were serving hanging sentences and life imprisonment expressed their happiness when informed about the government's efforts to abolish the mandatory death penalty.

Mohamad (not his real name), 45, said he was serving a life sentence that was now in its 23rd year.

"Give us the opportunity to be with the family and promise to do our best," he said, who was convicted of drug-related offences.

He said most of the prisoners serving hanging sentences and life imprisonment are over 60 years old and should be given a second chance.

On June 10 last year, the government previously agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia by imposing an alternative sentence subject to the court's discretion.

The decision was reached following the presentation of the Alternative Punishment Study Report to the Mandatory Death Penalty in the Council of Ministers meeting on 8 June 2022.