Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Malaysians charged in Sweden for hitting kids

Malaysians charged in Sweden for hitting kids
The couple have been held since December 18th, 2013. Screenshot: Facebook

Malaysians charged in Sweden for hitting kids

Published: 10 Feb 2014 12:01 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Feb 2014 12:01 GMT+01:00

A Malaysian couple accused of hitting their children in Sweden have been formally indicted in a case that has caused outrage back in Malaysia. If convicted, they face up to ten years in prison.
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The parents were arrested in December after being accused of hitting their children for not performing their prayers. They have been since been held on remand while their four children were taken by social services. 
 
On Monday, the prosecutor filed charges of gross violation of their children's integrity (grov fridskr√§nkning) and for assault. 
 
"In my judgement, the information provided by the children via remote video interrogation is trustworthy," prosecutor Anna Arnell said in a statement. 
 
"Together with other accompanying proof, such as witnesses and items that have been seized from the home, there are good grounds for the indictment."
 
The news came as a welcome relief to the mother of the children, who has struggled with life in a remand centre as the investigation proceeded.
 
"My client is relieved that the prosecutor has finally brought charges, as she will now be able to prove her innocence," Kristofer Stahre, the mother's defence lawyer, told The Local.
 
"She has been waiting a long time for this, it's been a tough time for her in jail, but now she is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel."
 
The trial is set to begin on February 18th and is expected to last ten days.
 
"It's difficult to speculate what will happen, but of course I hope my client will be freed. She hasn't done any of the things of which she's been accused," Stahre added.
 
The couple has lived in Sweden for three years. The father, Azizul Raheem Awalludin, works for Tourism Malaysia in Stockholm and has worked for his country's tourism ministry since 2000. His wife, Shalwati Nurshal, is a secondary school teacher on unpaid leave. The Swedish foreign ministry said neither Awalludin nor Nurshal are registered as diplomats, leading prosecutors to conclude that diplomatic immunity does not apply in the case.
 
The case has stirred a heated reaction in Malaysia, where the four children were returned in early February. A Facebook group lobbying for the parents' return to Malaysia has almost 20,000 followers, and many took to Twitter to share their outrage alongside the hashtag #SwedenLetThemGo.
 
Kristofer Stahre has said the situation was the result of a "clash of cultures". Sweden was the first country in the world to outlaw corporal punishment back in 1979. In Muslim-majority Malaysia, corporal punishment is allowed in schools.
 
The case is not the first time a diplomat from abroad has got caught on the wrong side of the saw. In 2011, an Italian politician was convicted for assaulting his son during a Stockholm holiday, in a case that stirred heated debate in Sweden and Italy.

Chandran Paskaran saved at the last minute from being hanged to death

Chandran Paskaran was almost hanged to death in Malaysia on 7/2/2014 - but this time, we found out about this just before the carrying out of the death penalty, and many acted swiftly pleading for a stop of the hanging. And, the Sultan of Johor responded and ordered a stay of execution ...

Yes, the Sultan and the King do have the power to stay execution and even commute death sentences... until Malaysia formally abolishes the death penalty ...and the mandatory death penalty from its laws. Mandatory death penalty gives judges no choice but to sentence persons to death when they are found guilty  of the offence - irrespective of the circumstances, and as such the first to go must be the mandatory death penalty returning to judges the discretion when it comes to sentencing. But more importantly, death penalty itself must be abolished...


Sultan intervenes, inmate escapes gallows


 
Chandran Paskaran was scheduled to be executed today. But his death sentence has been postponed following intervention from the Sultan of Johor.

According to his brother Thamotharan, the order came late last night.

"Our family is extremely happy with the news received at the last hour. Our deepest gratitude goes to the Sultan for intervening at the last moment," he was quoted as saying by online news portal Free Malaysia Today.

Chandran was convicted for a murder in 2003 and sentenced to death by the Johor Baru High Court in 2008.

However, Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Shamini Darshni said Chandran's life was still at risk and urged that his sentence be commuted immediately, as well as that of other death row inmates.

"We urge the Malaysian government to immediately halt all plans for executions, commute existing death sentences and put in place a moratorium on the use of the death penalty as a first step towards abolition," she added in a statement today.

Echoing Sahmini's statement, Human Rights Watch Asia division deputy director Phil Robertson said: "The Malaysian government should recognise that the death penalty is an irreversible, inherently cruel and unusual punishment that should be done away with once and for all."

"If Malaysia made a decision to abolish the death penalty, this would be greeted with significant support and applause at Malaysia's upcoming session at the UN Human Rights Council to discuss the results of last year's Universal Periodic Review session for the country," he added in a separate statement.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Bar also welcomed the sultan's decision to spare Chandran’s life, and commended the prime minister and his government for their role in the matter.

Bar Council president Christopher Leong urged the government to now move ahead with its stated  aim, since 2010, to relook at the the mandatory death penalty, with a view to its possible abolition or the reintroduction of a discretionary death penalty.

“The Malaysian Bar reiterates its proposal to the Malaysian government to abolish the death penalty without delay. Those who have been sentenced with the mandatory death penalty should all be resentenced,” Leong said in a statement.

He noted that the matter was already under review by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. -Malaysiakini, 7/2/2014, Sultan intervenes, inmate escapes gallows

Press Release | The Malaysian Bar Welcomes Show of Mercy in Stay of Execution of Death Sentence PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 07 February 2014 05:17pm
ImageThe Malaysian Bar is heartened by, and welcomes, the show of compassion and the swift intervention of the Duli Yang Maha Mulia Sultan of Johore, which resulted in the stay of execution of the death sentence on Chandran s/o Paskaran, scheduled for today.  

The Bar also welcomes the chorus of voices of civil society actors that called for the execution to be stayed.

In addition, the Bar commends the Prime Minister and his Government for their role in this matter.  The Bar notes that the Malaysian Government has since 2010 announced its willingness to relook at the mandatory death penalty, with a view to its possible abolition or the reintroduction of a discretionary death penalty.    

At an event entitled “Dialogue with Members of Parliament on the Reintroduction of Discretionary Sentencing for Capital Punishment” held at Parliament on 14 November 2013, the Government and the Attorney General’s Chambers informed those present that they were in the midst of reviewing the mandatory death penalty.

In light of such review, the authorities and the Government should, in the interests of justice, impose an immediate official moratorium on any and all executions of the death sentence. 

The Malaysian Bar is of the view that the death penalty should be abolished, as every individual has an inherent right to life.  This right is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that may have been committed.  The death penalty has no place in a society that values human life, justice and mercy.  

The Malaysian Bar reiterates its call on the Malaysian Government to abolish the death penalty without delay.  Those who have been sentenced with the mandatory death penalty should all be resentenced.  
 
Christopher Leong
President
Malaysian Bar
 
7 February 2014

Source: Malaysian Bar Website

And, the statement of the Malaysian Bar the day before is as follows:-
 
Press Release | Justice Tempered with Mercy: Abolish the Death Penalty, and Commute Death Sentences to Life Imprisonment
 
ImageThe Malaysian Bar has just learnt that the authorities intend to carry out the death sentence on Chandran s/o Paskaran at the Kajang prison on 7 February 2014.  On 16 April 2008 Chandran s/o Paskaran was convicted of the offence of murder and sentenced to death under section 302 of the Penal Code.

The Malaysian Bar appeals to the authorities and the Government for clemency, and to stay the execution of Chandran s/o Paskaran.  The Malaysian Bar also appeals to the authorities and the Government to take appropriate steps to eventually commute his death sentence to one of life imprisonment.

In Malaysia, the death penalty is mandatory for persons convicted of murder, trafficking in narcotics of various specified amounts, and discharging a firearm in the commission of various specified crimes (even where no one is hurt).

The Malaysian Bar advocates for the abolition of the death penalty, in the belief that every individual has an inherent right to life.  This right is absolute, universal and inalienable, irrespective of any crimes that may have been committed.  The rationale for the abolition of the death penalty is made more compelling when we consider that:

(a) There is no empirical evidence to support the notion that the death penalty serves as an effective deterrent to the commission of crimes.  Arguably, there has been no significant reduction in the crimes for which the death penalty is currently mandatory.  This is particularly true of drug-related offences.  For instance, drug-related offences and addiction have been on the rise in Malaysia despite the 1983 amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which introduced the mandatory death penalty; and

(b) It is acknowledged that no criminal justice legal system in the world is foolproof, error-free or fail-safe.  In the instance of the death penalty, there is no opportunity to correct an error, as the execution of the death sentence is irreversible.  

There is no denying that guilty persons ought to receive punishment.  But that is not the same as saying that they therefore ought to be put to death.  Even in the case of a convicted murderer, the death penalty is a reflection of the notion that “an eye for an eye” provides the best form of justice, a concept that we should not embrace nor practise today, bearing in mind that at present there is no criminal justice system emplaced that is foolproof.

It is incongruous for Malaysia, as a civilised society, to condemn the barbarity of murder by responding with State-sanctioned taking of life.  The death penalty has no place in any society that values human life, justice and mercy.

The Malaysian Government has since 2010 announced its willingness to relook at the mandatory death penalty, with a view to its possible abolition or the reintroduction of a discretionary death penalty.  The then-de facto Minister for Law, Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, said that the Government would be in favour of abolishing the mandatory death penalty if a majority of Malaysians were in favour of it.

In July 2012, the Attorney General announced that the Attorney General’s Chambers was considering proposing an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to give judges the discretion not to impose the death sentence on drug couriers, commonly known as “drug mules”. The Attorney General’s Chambers was reportedly also considering a proposal that those on death row be resentenced.  

On 8 July 2013, the Malaysian Bar co-launched the results of a major survey of Malaysian citizens, carried out in November and December 2012 through face-to face interviews, by IPSOS Malaysia. The survey was commissioned by the Death Penalty Project, a leading international human rights organisation based in the United Kingdom, and analysed by Professor Roger Hood, Professor Emeritus of Criminology at the University of Oxford. 

The results of the survey showed that there was very little public support in Malaysia for the mandatory death penalty.  It showed that the majority of Malaysian citizens favoured a discretionary death penalty for murder, but the majority did not favour use of the death penalty at all, when presented with typical cases of drug trafficking and non-fatal firearms offences.

Given this, public opinion is not a barrier to the reform of the mandatory capital sentencing law for murder, or to its complete abolition for drug trafficking and non-fatal firearms offences.

At an event entitled “Dialogue with Members of Parliament on the Reintroduction of Discretionary Sentencing for Capital Punishment” held at Parliament on 14 November 2013, the Government and the Attorney General’s Chambers informed those present that they were in the midst of reviewing the mandatory death penalty.

In light of such review, the authorities and the Government should, in the interests of justice, impose an immediate official moratorium on any and all executions of the death sentence. There are currently about 900 persons on death row awaiting execution.  All of these sentences, including that of Chandran s/o Paskaran, should be stayed pending the results of the review on the mandatory death penalty.  It is unfair, unjust and ghastly to carry out the death sentence when there is currently a possibility of reform of the mandatory death penalty.

The Malaysian Bar reiterates its call on the Malaysian Government to abolish the death penalty without delay.  Those who have been sentenced with the mandatory death penalty should all be resentenced.  In the meantime, there must logically be an immediate moratorium on all executions.
 
Christopher Leong
President
Malaysian Bar
 
6 February 2014