Malaysia to abolish mandatory death sentence for drug-related cases

A bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act, which will abolish the mandatory death sentence for drug-related offences, was passed in Dewan Rakyat on Thursday, according to a report in the New Straits Times Online.

It took 34 years for the mandatory death penalty to be abolished and this amendment is good for Malaysia, Prime Minister’s Department minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said this week.

“The government had taken into consideration the views and suggestions of 30 million Malaysians in drafting the amendment which will add an element of mercy in a certain situation where the judge sees it,” said the minister.

Azalina said the amendment did not mean that judges will be tied by the government.

Rather, she noted that the amendment would give the judges two options – either hanging or imprisonment for life.

She said that those accused could end up being acquitted while those convicted could still appeal to the higher court.

She added that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak felt it was time for such initiatives to be taken in line with the government’s war on drugs.  

Police statistics recorded a high number of drug-related cases with 702,318 people arrested for drug trafficking and drug addiction from January 2014 to October this year.