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

Malaysia – Wrong for a Possibly ‘Tainted’ Federal Court Panel to Uphold Death Penalty of Lahad Datu 9

** a media statement by an ADPAN member, not reflective of the position of ADPAN on the matter..

*There is an ongoing challenge about the constitutionality of the extension and-reappointment of the Chief Justice  and also the President of the Court of Appeal, whose tenure would have ended when they reached the age of 66 years and 6 months. As such, should be hearing and deciding on appeals …?

Media Statement – 16/1/2018

Wrong for a Possibly ‘Tainted’ Federal Court Panel to Uphold

Death Penalty of Lahad Datu 9

 

Abolish Death Penalty in Malaysia

 

 

MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is disappointed that the Federal Court , on 15/1/2018(Malaysiakini – Bernama Report 15/1/2018), decided to uphold the Court of Appeal decision to sentence to death the 9 Filipino men for waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong in relation to the Lahad Datu intrusion about four years ago. The Court of Appeal, earlier on February 2017, overturned the natural life sentence meted out by the Kota Kinabalu High Court on July 26 2016 on these 9 men, and sentenced them to death.

 

 

Md Raus Sharif continuing to be Federal Court judge and Chief Justice when being challenged in court

 

MADPET is also shocked that Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif chaired this Federal Court 5-judge panel who heard and decided on this appeal. The validity of CJ Md Raus Sharif continuing to be a Federal Court Judge and Chief Justice past 3/8/2017, the day his term in office came to an end when he achieved the age of 66 years and 6 months is currently being challenged in court by amongst others, the Malaysian Bar, as being unconstitutional(Malay Mail, 17/10/2017).

 

As such, MADPET is of the view that he should have not sat in any panel of the Federal Court and decide on any cases until this matter is finally resolved by the courts. If the courts, later decides, that his extended appointment as Federal Court Judge and/or Chief Justice is unconstitutional, null and void, then all decisions of the Federal Court in which he was part of will reasonably be considered invalid.

 

MADPET is also of the opinion that when CJ Md Raus Sharif appointment was extended beyond his last date in office, was also a violation of the principle of security of tenure, which is a safeguard to guarantee independence of the judiciary. If the term of judges, can be extended beyond the fixed retirement age by the actions of the Prime Minister, the King and/or some other, the very intention behind the security of tenure principle is violated.

 

 

Lahad Datu Incursion 11/2/2013 – 11/3/2013

 

This Lahad Datu case is in connection with what happened in February-March 2013, when a group, comprising over a hundred people, who were allegedly followers of self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III entered Sabah allegedly on a mission to ‘reclaim’ part of Borneo as their ancestral land. The Lahad Datu situation reportedly saw a total of 68 deaths – 56 from the Sulu sultanate, nine from the Malaysian authorities and six civilians.(Astro Awani, 30/12/2013)

 

 

At the High Court in 2016, the court of first instance where the trial was conducted, Judge Stephen Chung, at the Kota Kinabalu High Court, after hearing the case, having the benefit of hearing the witnesses and considering the evidence elected to not sentence the 9 to death, but to life imprisonment.

 

 

‘…In his judgment, Chung said there was no evidence that the accused were directly involved in the skirmishes that occurred during the intrusion, nor was there proof that they had killed any member of the security force in cold blood or injured anybody. He noted that the key persons in the intrusion, such as Datu Agbimuddin Kiram and ‘General Musa’ were not brought to justice. “It is indeed an odious task to pass the appropriate sentence for the accused convicted under Section 121 of the Penal Code. “The offence had badly affected the lives of the residents of Kampung Tanduo and those who resided in the nearby villages, as well as the families of the deceased security personnel,” he said…’(Malaysian Digest/Bernama 26/7/2016). The said 9 persons were as such sentenced not to death, but to life imprisonment by the High Court.

 

 

It was also reported that the lawyer representing these accused persons that pleaded guilty also ‘told the court that his clients had been promised jobs and identity cards by their leader, General Musa, the chief of staff of Datu Agbimuddin Kiram who was a brother of the self-styled Sulu Sultan.’ (Star, 24/2/2016). It was also reported that ‘although they admitted to being members of a terror group known as the Royal Sulu Force (RSF), they were not involved in its militant activities. He said this was consistent with their statements recorded individually before a Sessions Court judge in Lahad Datu shortly after their arrests sometime in March 2013…’

 

 

As such, MADPET is of the opinion that these 9 persons were certainly not deserving of the death penalty.

 

 

‘Prisoner of War’ or ordinary criminals?

 

 

Further, a perusal of the history and background of the whole conflict, as reported in the media, questions arise as to whether this should have been considered to be a ‘war’, and, if so, whether it is proper in such cases to sentence ‘prisoners of war’ to death.

 

 

This seems to be not a simple case of a group of criminals ‘waging war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong (the King)’. It was reported also that the reason for the incursion was for the purpose of ‘reclaiming’ part of Borneo as their ancestral land, that they claimed belonged to the Sulu Sultanate that was ‘….seized by the British from their government.. ‘. It was also reported in the media that Malaysia had been paying annual sums to the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu, which was considered by them as ‘rent’.(Astro Awani, 30/12/2013). Determining finally the very nature of that intrusion that lasted about a month(11/2/2013 – 11/3/2013), is material in determining whether the arrested(or the captured) were prisoners of war or simple criminals.

 

 

As such, MADPET urges that a moratorium on execution be imposed for these 9 persons, and that it be best that their death sentence be commuted to imprisonment;

 

MADPET also urges that the Sabah dispute concerning the Sulu Sultanate and Malaysia be finally resolved;

 

MADPET also calls on Chief Justice Md Raus Sharif to not be part of any Federal Court panel deciding on any cases, especially death penalty cases, until the question of the validity of his position as Federal Court Judge and Chief Justice beyond 3/8/2017 is finally resolved;

 

MADPET reiterates the call for Malaysia to impose a moratorium on all executions, commute all death sentences and abolish the death penalty in Malaysia.

 

 

Charles Hector

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

>>>>

 

See also earlier statement of MADPET

 

MADPET – Commute death sentence on Lahad Datu 9 to life (FMT News)

MADPET DISAPPOINTED WITH THE COURT OF APPEAL DECISION TO SENTENCE 9 TO DEATH OVERTURNING HIGH COURT’S LIFE IMPRISONMENT SENTENCE IN THE LAHAD DATU WAGING WAR CASE

See also Media Report about what happened in Lahad Datu

Berita Malaysia

Lahad Datu invasion: A painful memory of 2013

Najiah Najib | December 30, 2013 06:53 MYT

KUALA LUMPUR: On Feb 11, 2013, the nation was rocked by news that broke late into the night about the eastern shores of Sabah being invaded by a group of armed men.

The group, comprising over a hundred people, was quickly identified to be followers of self-proclaimed Sultan of Sulu, Jamalul Kiram III. They were led by Jamalul’s brother Agbimuddin Kiram.

Hailing from Pulau Simunul of Tawi-Tawi in the southern Philippines, the group first entered Malaysian waters by boat on Feb 9 and gathered in stages at Felda Sahabat 17 in Kampung Tanduo, Lahad Datu, as a means of ‘reclaiming’ part of Borneo as their ancestral land. This forced some eighty locals to flee from 15 homes.

Upon being discovered by fishermen, the Filipino rebels broke into smaller groups and entered several locations in the village, including Kampung Sungai Bakau.

On Feb 14, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the Malaysian government would negotiate with the group before ousting them from the area. Then Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar said negotiations with the group were in progress to find the best solution without bloodshed.

Two days later, then Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein made a statement that played down the situation; the group merely comprised ‘malnourished’ and elderly men in sarongs and slippers, mostly unarmed, he said.

The tussle between Malaysia and the Philippines over Sabah had been a long-standing one. The Suluks wanted Sabah to be returned to them, claiming it was seized by the British from their government. But Malaysia had always rejected the Philippine’s territorial claim to Sabah as it deemed that Sabah residents had exercised their right to self-determination when they voted to join the Malaysian federation in 1963.

The Sulu sultanate also lost their rights in the Madrid protocol of 1885 when their predecessors Spain relinquished all their claims to Sabah, giving all control to Malaysia’s predecessors, the British.

However, it was subsequently learnt that the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines were issuing cheques for RM5,300 to the legal counsel of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu in keeping with the terms of an 1887 agreement. While Malaysia considered it as annual cession payment for the disputed state, the sultan’s descendants considered it as “rent”.

Many then called for the Malaysian government to reduce or stop the cession payment altogether, including former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and opposition lawyer Karpal Singh.
The first shootout between Malaysian security forces and the small group of Filipino rebels broke out on March 1 when the latter tried to break a police blockade in Kampung Tanduo. Najib confirmed that the event had left two police commandos dead while Sabah police commissioner, Datuk Hamza Taib, confirmed that 12 of Kiram’s followers were killed.

At this juncture, the Philippines government seemed to totally leave the fate of the royal Sulu army in the hands of the Malaysian security forces.

In the early hours of March 3, a group of Filipino gunmen, believed to be less than 10, ambushed the police in a village in Semporna, Sabah. The media reported that six Malaysian police officers and seven assailants were killed. It was also reported that four of the policemen had their bodies mutilated, with one beheaded.

On March 5, three F-18 and five Hawk aircraft filled the Kampung Tanduo skies in an airstrike against the Filipino rebels at dawn in an effort to flush them out. Thirteen of the Sulu gunmen were killed in the process. The deaths were confirmed by then Defence Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Codenamed Ops Daulat, the ‘mopping up’ stage also saw ground troops going door-to-door to sniff out the intruders. However, none were caught.

Kampung Tanduo was finally secured by Malaysian forces on March 11, with the bodies of 22 Sulu gunmen recovered. Despite the deaths, the Kiram family insisted that its army stay put in Sabah and not surrender.

Between March 20 and April 1, 15 Filipino nationals were charged in court over the incursion – eight of them in the Tawau High Court while the rest in the Lahad Datu Magistrate’s Court.
A Malaysian Special Branch officer, Corporal Hassa Ali Basari, was also charged and convicted for intentionally refraining from disclosing information on terrorist acts by the Sulu gunmen in Lahad Datu.

Ops Daulat ended on June 29 when it was replaced by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM). The body is now responsible for security arrangements in the area, covering all operations from northern Kudat to south-eastern Tawau. This is to ensure that Sabah’s eastern sea borders remain safe. A 24-hour ESSCOM operations room was also announced on Aug 12.

The Lahad Datu standoff reportedly saw a total of 68 deaths – 56 from the Sulu sultanate, nine from the Malaysian authorities and six civilians.- Astro Awani, 30/12/2013

Malaysia – Delay in bringing into force new amendments, leaves judge with no choice but to impose Death Penalty on 5 convicted drug traffickers

Media Statement – 19/1/2018
Minister’s Delay Resulted in Judge Having No Choice but to Sentence A. Sargunan and 4 others to Death

 

All 39B(Drug Trafficking) Trials Should Be Suspended until New Law Comes into Force
MADPET(Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is appalled by the delay of the Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 coming into force which will mean that persons now being convicted by Courts for drug trafficking will still be subjected to the mandatory death penalty and not enjoy the possibility of avoiding the death penalty. The proposed amendment to the law, when it comes into force, will only apply to cases where persons facing trial is yet to be convicted. Therefore, justly all drug trafficking case trials must not continue until the new law is in force. The Minister’s delay has already cost at least 5 persons to be convicted to death.
 

On 17/1/2018, it was reported that 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).
 

The Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2017 was passed by the Dewan Rakyat(House of Representatives) on 30/11/2017, and by the Senate(Dewan Negara) on 14/12/2017. Royal assent was received on 27/12/2017, making this now an Act of Parliament, but sadly, it only will come into operation on a date to be appointed by the Minister by notification in the Gazette.
 

A perusal of the official e-Federal Gazette website on 19/1/2018, revealed that some other laws that obtained royal assent on the same day as Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017, or subsequently have already come into force but not this Act which will have the effect of restoring judicial 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.
 

By reason of the Minister’s delay, now A. Sargunan and the 4 Indian nationals have been convicted and sentenced to the death, as Section 39B (1)(a) Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 still provides for the mandatory death penalty.
 

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.
 

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. As such, justly all their death sentences should be commuted to imprisonment, or alternatively a new law is needed that allows for a review of their current sentence. Reasonably, given the large numbers involved and other reasons, it would be best that all their death sentences be commuted.
 

Malaysia must be complemented for this major long overdue step to abolish the mandatory death penalty for the offence of drug trafficking, and return discretion to judges when it comes to sentencing.
 

Noted that there are still flaws in this new law which have been raised by the Malaysian Bar, amongst others, including the fact that the judges in exercising their discretion is currently limited to just certain limited considerations. There is also now an unjust mandatory requirement before the exercise of the Judge’s discretion – the Judge’s assessment of the convicted person’s ability or willingness to assist in disrupting drug trafficking activities. There are many reasons why a convicted person may not be able to provide this assistance including possible retaliation by kingpins and others on the convicted and/or their families.
 

The Malaysian Bar in their statement dated 5/12/2017, amongst others, stated, “ We are concerned that Judges are being limited in their consideration of the mitigating factors and circumstances that surround each case, before sentencing. Such mitigating factors can include, and are not limited to, the offender’s age, rehabilitation goals, past criminal record, role played in the offence, mental capacity, reparations made, fear of another person, use of violence, harm done to property or persons, and degree of cooperation with the authorities. The sentencing process is, and should always remain, within the unfettered domain of the Judiciary.’
 

MADPET calls for all trials of persons charged under section 39B(drug trafficking) be stayed, or where trial is over, that courts do not proceed to convict until after Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Act 2017 comes into force.

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

 
MADPET reiterates the call for Malaysia to speedily abolish all other 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

Malaysian, four Indian nationals sentenced to death for drug trafficking

Wednesday, 17 Jan 2018

  • 7:00 PM MYT

by wani muthiah

SHAH ALAM: A Malaysian and four Indian nationals were sent to the gallows by the Shah Alam High Court on Wednesday (Jan 17) for drug trafficking.

Malaysian A. Sargunan, 42, and Indian nationals Sumesh Sudhakaran, Alex Aby Jacob Alexander, Renjith Raveendran and Sajith Sadanandan had faced two charges under Section 39B (1)(a) Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

They were found guilty of trafficking 4,252.7 grams of methamphetamine on July 26, 2013 in a house in Sungai Lalang, Semenyih.

The five men were also found guilty of trafficking 1,506.9 grams of ketamine on the same day and at the same time.

The five Indian nationals from Kerala had been employed as cleaners and Sargunan, who was a taxi driver, was engaged on a part-time basis to transport them from their accommodation to their workplace daily.

In their defence, Sargunan said his duty was just to transport the workers and the four Indians said they were merely cleaners who worked on two three-hour shifts at the premises.

In delivering the sentence, Justice Datuk Ghazali Cha said the prosecution had proven its case beyond reasonable doubt, that the men were aware the premises were used to process drugs.

Other incriminating circumstantial evidence were the discovery of Sargunan’s shirt and towel as well as some of the accused’s toothbrushes in the premises, which indicated that they had spent long hours there.

Initially, there were seven arrests but two of them – Malaysian R. Nagarajan and Indian national Shajahan Thasthagir – were acquitted at the early stages of the trial which started on March 1, 2016.

Datuk N. Sivananthan and Low Huey Theng defended Sargunan while Jayarubbiny Jayaraj defended the other four men. DPP Deepa Nair Thevaharan prosecuted. – Star, 17/1/2018

 
Read more at https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/01/17/malaysian-four-indian-nationals-sentenced-to-death-for-drug-trafficking/#f0cm8LvlBH45Fi1c.99

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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
11 30-11-2017 A1553 COMMERCIAL VEHICLES LICENSING BOARD (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 10-11-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
12 30-11-2017 A1552 LAND PUBLIC TRANSPORT (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 10-11-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
13 30-11-2017 A1551 MERCHANT SHIPPING (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 10-11-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
14 17-10-2017 A1550 VALUERS, APPRAISERS AND ESTATE AGENTS (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 09-10-2017 NOT YET IN FORCE
15 17-10-2017 A1549 PREVENTION OF CRIME (AMENDMENT) ACT 2017 09-10-2017 15-12-2017 [P.U. (B) 577/2017]