Sunday, December 01, 2013

Malaysians want Judges to decide whether to impose Death Penalty or not

In Malaysia, there are laws that gives no choices to judges when it comes to sentencing, and even though the circumstances may not warrant a death penalty, judges have no choice but to sentence the convicted person to death - this is known as the mandatory death penalty, and it is now the sentenced imposed for offences like murder, drug trafficking, etc... In many cases, there is no death or injury to any victim at all, but since the law only provides for death penalty, many are sentenced to be hung by their neck till they die...

A recent survey amongst Malaysians indicate that Malaysians no longer want the mandatory death penalty - and wants the law to give judges the discretion to sentence a person to death or to some other sentence like imprisonment(with or without whipping), etc depending on the facts and circumstances of each and every case...

Published: Monday December 2, 2013 MYT 10:30:00 AM
Updated: Monday December 2, 2013 MYT 12:04:42 AM

Let judges choose

KUALA LUMPUR: Judges should be allowed to use their discretion in whether to impose the death sentence as Malaysians have demonstrated that they prefer the death sentence to be discretionary.

This was the finding of the Death Penalty Project (DPP) survey that was carried out in association with the Bar Council end of 2012, with results released in July.


Malaysian were polled on how they would mete out punishment for a few hypothetical capital cases, where the death sentence is mandatory upon conviction.

A shift to discretionary sentencing, all the way to the total abolition of the death penalty, is supported by the findings of the survey which sampled 1,535 Malaysian citizens.

The study found there was little public support for a mandatory death penalty to be imposed upon those convicted of murder, drug trafficking, and certain non-fatal firearms offences.

As reported by the Sunday Star, the survey as well as the high number of recommendations from the United Nations during its Universal Periodic Review form the basis for the Malaysian Bar and Suhakam’s calls to the Government to abolish the mandatory death penalty, or to give judges the discretion whether to impose it.

In an email to The Star, Emeritus Prof Roger Hood of Oxford University, who analysed the findings of the survey, said the respondents’ had considerably lower support for both, for the death penalty in general and the mandatory death penalty in particular, when asked what the sentence should be for a number of “scenarios” typical of crimes that appear in court.

“When judging cases of murder, the highest proportion to choose death as the most appropriate penalty was 65% for a recidivist robber who shot a storekeeper in the head; and in one case of domestic murder only 14% chose death.

“Of the 56% who favoured the mandatory death sentence for murder only one in seven thought the death penalty was the right sentence for all the murder cases they were asked to judge; the majority used their discretion to fit the punishment to the circumstances of the crime.

“Only one in 12 citizens (8%) of the total sample favoured the mandatory death sentence for murder when they were asked to judge real cases,” said Prof Hood, former Director of the Centre for Criminological Research at All Souls College.

In cases of drug trafficking, he said the highest proportion choosing the death penalty was 29% and that this was for attempting to smuggle 25kg of heroin into the country.

He said that only 1 in 12 respondents thought death was the correct penalty for all the drug trafficking cases they judged.

And in the scenario of a burglar shooting and wounding a householder, only 20% chose death as the appropriate sentence, he added.

“When we analysed the sentences imposed on all 12 cases, only just over one in a 100 (1.2%) would have sentenced all of them to death.”

Taken as a whole, Prof Hood said the majority of Malaysian citizens favoured a discretionary death penalty for murder, and only a minority favoured use of the death penalty at all when presented with typical cases of drug trafficking and non-fatal firearms offences. - The Star, 2/12/2013,
Let judges choose

See also earlier post:  

Survey reveals Malaysians against mandatory death penalty fact are for abolition of death penalty

  TEST your attitude to the mandatory death penalty that exists currently for murder, drug trafficking and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act offences.

Would you choose the death penalty in the next four of the 12 scenarios devised by Prof Roger Hood of Oxford University for the Death Penalty Project survey in Malaysia?

Compare your answers with the results of the 1,535 Malaysians who took part in the survey.

Case 5: Robbery Murder

'A man robbed a local shop with a gun and killed the owner by shooting him in the head. He took away with him RM800 cash. He had not previously been convicted of any crime.'

Case 6: Robbery Murder

'A man robbed a local shop with a gun and killed the owner by shooting him in the head. He took away with him RM800 cash. He had previously been in prison twice for robbery.'

Case 7: Domestic Murder

'A woman deliberately poisoned her husband, who died, so that she could be free to live with her lover.'

Case 8: Domestic Murder

'A woman, who had been abused by her husband for many years, decided to kill him by deliberately poisoning his food. A neighbour discovered the death of the husband and reported it to the police.'


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