Malaysia – Delay in Coming Into Force Law That Abolishes Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking results in 10 unnessarily sentenced to death

Another 3 sentenced to death since MADPET’s last statement –

Lorry attendant to hang for drug trafficking two years ago- Malay Mail Online, 9/2/2018
2 friends to hang for trafficking drugs. – The Malaysian Insight, 8/2/2018

 

MADPET – Malaysian Gopi Kumar is 6th victims of Minister’s Delay bringing into force law that abolishes mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking

Media Statement –25/1/2018

Malaysian Gopi Kumar is 6th victims of Minister’s Delay bringing into force law that abolishes mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) notes that despite the fact that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 receiving royal assent on 27/12/2017, that effectively abolishes the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking, the failure of the Minister to do the needful to bring the law into force has resulted in Malaysian judges still having no choice but to sentence convicted drug traffickers to death.

‘…”Since there is only one sentence provided for under Section 39B of the Act, the court hereby sentences all the accused to death,” he [Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha] said….’(The Sun Daily,22/1/2018). Until the new Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force, Judges continues to have no discretion but to sentence those convicted to death.

The most recent victim was Malaysian lorry driver S. Gopi Kumar, 33, who was sentenced to death(The Sun Daily, 24/1/2018). Earlier, on 17/1/2018, it was reported that 5 others, Malaysian A. Sargunan, 42, and four Indian nationals(Sumesh Sudhakaran, Alex Aby Jacob Alexander, Renjith Raveendran and Sajith Sadanandan ) were convicted and sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court on Wednesday (Jan 17) for drug trafficking under Section 39B (1)(a) Dangerous Drugs Act 1952(Star, 17/1/2018). As not all cases get reported by the media, there may be many others that have been sentenced to death, who may not have been if not for this Ministerial delay.

A perusal of the Malaysian official e-Federal Gazette website on 25/1/2018, shows that the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017, that received royal assent on 27/12/2017, has still not come into force. In comparison, other laws that received royal assent on the same day like the Income Tax(Amendment) Act 2017, came into force on 30/12/2017. Even some laws that received royal assent later on 29/12/2018, like the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (Amendment) Act 2018 has already come into force since 11/1/2018.

When the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force, it will finally abolish mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking that have existed since 1983. Judges, will thereafter, have the discretion to impose a sentence for drug trafficking other than the death penalty, being life imprisonment with whipping of not less than 15 strokes, for the offence of drug trafficking.

Section 3(2) of Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 states, ‘ (2) Any proceedings against any person who has been charged, whether or not trial has commenced or has been completed, and has not been convicted under section 39b of the principal Act by a competent Court before the appointed date, shall on the appointed date be dealt with by the competent Court and be continued under the provisions of the principal Act as amended by this Act.’

This means that any person even already on trial for drug trafficking(section 39B), so long as they have yet to be convicted, can still enjoy the benefits of Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017. But, until the Minister do the needful, to ensure this law comes into force, judges will continue to have no discretion but to impose the mandatory death penalty on those convicted before the new law applies.

The new law, sadly, do not provide any remedy to those already convicted and/or for the 800 or more currently on death row by reason of having been convicted for drug trafficking.

Hence, as of today, Malaysian Gopi Kumar and possibly 5 or more that have already been convicted by the High Court before the new law come into force, are victims of a great injustice and may be hanged to death.

As it stands now, under even the new law, after conviction and being sentenced to death by the High Court, the Appellate Courts also will not have the capacity to change the death sentence to imprisonment, unless they choose to acquit them of drug trafficking, or possibly elect to convict for for a lesser offence that does not carry the mandatory death penalty.

In light of the adequacies of the new upcoming drug law, Malaysia must really table another new law that will result in the commuting of sentence of all those currently on death row by reason of being convicted of the offence of drug trafficking, and even other offences that carries the mandatory death penalty. This will be just for 2 Malaysians and 4 foreigners sentenced in 2018.

This new law could be tabled in the up-coming Parliamentary session this March 2018. This is the most reasonable approach, considering that there are more than 800 on death row, and judicial review of the sentence of so many may really be a difficult or near impossible task.

It must also be reminded, that Malaysia was looking at abolishing the death penalty, especially the mandatory death penalty. While the new Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 will do away with the mandatory death penalty for just one offence – drug trafficking, mandatory death penalty still exist for murder and so many other offences, some of which are offences that do not result in any grievous injury and/or death to victims.

As such, Malaysia need to speedily table new laws, which will at the very least abolish the mandatory death penalty – returning discretion to judges to mete out appropriate just sentences based on the facts and circumstances of each and every case.

In the meantime, while Malaysia works towards abolition, there must justly be a moratorium on executions.

MADPET reiterates its call on the Minister to do the needful to ensure that Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force immediately without any further delay;

MADPET also calls for all trials of persons charged under section 39B(drug trafficking) be stayed, or where trial is almost over, that courts do not proceed to convict until after Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force. This will prevent any further injustice on any other person, as had embarrassingly happened to Gopi Kumar and 5 or more, who have in 2018 sentenced to death just because of the delay of the law that abolishes mandatory death penalty coming into force;

MADPET reiterates the call for Malaysia to speedily abolish all other remaining mandatory death penalty offences, other than drug trafficking, and returning sentencing discretion to judges; and

MADPET also reiterated the call for a moratorium on all executions, pending the abolition of the death penalty in Malaysia.

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Note:-

The Official E-Federal Gazette Website

http://www.federalgazette.agc.gov.my/eng_main/main_akta.php?jenis_akta=Pindaan

Refer also the earlier MADPET Statement related to this issue dated 19/1/2018. – Minister’s Delay Resulted in Judge Having No Choice but to Sentence A. Sargunan and 4 others to Death

Lorry driver to hang for trafficking over 45kg of drugs

Posted on 24 January 2018 – 11:23pm
Last updated on 25 January 2018 – 10:57am

 

Picture for representational purpose only. — AFP

KUALA LUMPUR: A lorry driver was sent to the gallows by the High Court here today after being found guilty of two counts of trafficking over 45 kg of drugs, two years ago.

Judicial Commissioner Datuk Mohamad Shariff Abu Samah meted out the sentence against S. Gopi Kumar, 33, after finding that the prosecution had succeeded in raising reasonable doubt at the end of the defence’s case.

Mohamad Shariff said the court found that the accused had control, possession and knowledge of the drugs found in his Proton Perdana car and at his rented house, which he moved into in 2015.

“I do not believe the excuses given by the accused that he did not know about the drugs found in the car and at the house on grounds that they (car and house) were accessible to the public,” he said.

Gopi Kumar committed the offence in his car at Jalan 10/18A, Taman Mastiara, Batu 5, Jalan Ipoh, Sentul here at 12.45am on June 22, 2016, and at his home on Jalan 15/18A in the same area at 1.45am on the same date.

For that, he was charged under Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

The court also sentenced the man to four years’ jail and five strokes of the cane for another charge of being in possession of 16.2 gm of methamphetamine in the same house at the same time and date.

He was ordered to serve the jail sentence from the date of his arrest on June 22, 2016.

A total of 11 prosecution witnesses and one defence witness – the accused himself, were called to testify in the trial which began on June 14, 2017.

DPP Ahmad Nazneed Zulkifli prosecuted, while Gopi Kumar was represented by counsel New Sin Yew. — Bernama – The Sun Daily, 24/1/2018

Malaysian, four Indian nationals to hang for drug trafficking

Posted on 22 January 2018 – 05:21pm
Last updated on 22 January 2018 – 05:35pm

 

Picture for representational purpose only. — AFP

SHAH ALAM: A local man and four Indian nationals were sent to the gallows by the High Court here on Jan 17 after being found guilty on two counts of trafficking 5.8kg of drugs at a house which doubled as a drug processing laboratory five years ago.

Judge Datuk Ghazali Cha handed down the sentence to A. Sargunan, 42, and four Indian nationals, namely Sumesh Sudhakaran, 30, Alex Aby Jacob Alexander, 37, Renjith Raveendran, 28, and Sajith Sadanandan, 29, after finding that the defence had failed to raise reasonable doubts against the prosecution’s case.

A total of 13 prosecution witnesses and nine defence witnesses were called to testify in the trial which began on March 1, 2016.

All the men were convicted of trafficking in methamphetamine weighing 4.3kg and ketamine weighing 1.5kg at the house in Jalan Sungai Lalang, Semenyih, at around 9am on July 26, 2013.

They were charged under Section 39B(1)(a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries a mandatory death penalty upon conviction.

In his judgment, judge Ghazali said after hearing the argument from both sides, he found that there was an undisputed fact in the case, namely all the accused were at the scene when arrested.

In addition, he said another undisputed fact was that the premises was indeed used for processing drugs as the methamphetamine was found exposed on the table and the ketamine, under the staircase.

“Based on the evidence, the court also found that all DNA profiles taken at the scene had been linked to all the accused, such as towels, gloves and toothbrushes. which have been proven by the chemist.

“Apart from that, it also cannot be disputed that the premises was always locked and the doors shut tightly with all the accused working only at midnight and early mornings.

“Although the accused said that they were at the premises for cleaning work and had other work shifts, it was supported by other evidence,” he said.

On Sargunan’s defence that he worked as a taxi driver and happened to be at the scene, the judge found his testimony to be a mere fabrication as the man’s DNA profile was found on towels and shirts found at the premises.

He also said that the evidence of all the four Indian nationals were unreliable as it contradicted their previous recorded statements.

“It is impossible that they do not know the house is a drug processing lab. They all had access to the items in the premises including the drugs.

“Since there is only one sentence provided for under Section 39B of the Act, the court hereby sentences all the accused to death,” he said.

The prosecution was conducted by deputy public prosecutor Deepa Nair Thevaharan while Sargunan was represented by lawyers Datuk N. Sivananthan and Low Huey Theng.

The four Indian nationals were represented by counsel Jayarubbiny Jayaraj. — Bernama – The Sun Daily, 22/1/2018

The Malaysian E-Federal Gazette Website as seen today

Thu , 25 January 2018

Amending Act

Showing page 1 of 12

No. Publication Date Act No. Title Date of Royal Assent Date of Commencement Download
1 10-01-2018 A1563 ARBITRATION (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
2 10-01-2018 A1562 TOURISM INDUSTRY (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
3 10-01-2018 A1561 MALAYSIAN MARITIME ENFORCEMENT AGENCY (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 11-1-2018
4 10-01-2018 A1560 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CORPORATION OF MALAYSIA (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 11-1-2018
5 10-01-2018 A1559 MALAYSIAN AVIATION COMMISSION (AMENDMENT) ACT 2018 29-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
6 29-12-2017 A1558 DANGEROUS DRUG (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 27-12-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
7 29-12-2017 A1557 SUPPLY ACT 2018 27-12-2017 30-12-2017
8 29-12-2017 A1556 INCOME TAX (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 27-12-2017 30-12-2017
9 29-12-2017 A1555 LABUAN BUSINESS ACTIVITY TAX (AMENDMENT) (NO. 2) ACT 2017 27-12-2017 30-12-2017
10 30-11-2017 A1554 PRIVATE EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 10-11-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE

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