Saturday, December 29, 2018

Families of death row inmates pray for end to death penalty(FMT News)

Families of death row inmates pray for end to death penalty

There are close to 1,300 death row inmates in Malaysia. (File pic)
KOTA KINABALU: The families of two convicts on death row are elated with the government’s plan to abolish the death penalty, and cannot wait for the law to be passed.

Duis Akim and Vincent Gisup were sentenced to death alongside a third person, Hendry Motutud, over the murder of a 7-Eleven clerk at Penampang in 2001.

For the families, it has been a “living nightmare” waiting for the duo’s execution.

Duis’ younger sister Angelina said the experience had been particularly tough on both families.
The trio had been acquitted at the High Court, but this was reversed by the Court of Appeal, who sentenced them to death by hanging.

“They were free for five years and then jailed again before being sentenced to death,” Angelina told FMT.
She said the episode was a living nightmare.

“We are restless, upset, sad and can’t sleep much. When we do fall asleep, we wake up thinking about their impending sentence.

“My mother can suddenly break down just like that because she is so heartbroken. That is why we’re praying for the abolishment to go through,” she said.

“We’re not saying they should be freed, because the court has ruled they are guilty. But please don’t take another life.”

Duis’ mother Kindayom Jidu, 64, is praying hard the abolition of the death sentence would indeed take place.

“I actually feel a loss already although the execution has yet to be carried out,” said Kindayom, who broke into tears several times during the interview.

“Imprisonment is enough of a sentence for them,” she added.

Duis, Vincent and Hendry were first freed of murder on July 10, 2007, after a trial that lasted 22 months, in which 24 witnesses were called.

Five years later, on Jan 11, 2012, the Court of Appeal sentenced the trio to death after finding them guilty on a joint charge of murdering Wilfred Thomas, 34, at a 7-Eleven store in Donggongon, Penampang on May 26, 2001.

The court allowed the appeal and set aside the High Court’s order of acquittal and discharge and substituted it with the three respondents being found guilty and convicted of the murder.

They were convicted under Section 302 of the Penal Code which carries the mandatory death sentence on conviction.

The Federal Court then upheld the ruling after the trio lost their appeal later in December the same year. They have been waiting for the death sentence ever since.

Another sibling of Duis, who declined to be named, said she understood it would be difficult for families of victims to accept the abolishment of death penalties.

“But our plea is a life has been tragically taken, but why should another life be taken as well?

“We hope forgiveness is there although we know to forgive is not so easy,” she said.

A bill to abolish the mandatory death penalty is expected to be tabled at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong said the Attorney-General’s Chambers was currently in the final stages of preparing the legislative papers for this purpose.

The Cabinet had decided that the death penalty for 33 offences under eight acts of law would be abolished, including Section 302 of the Penal Code (for murder).

The laws are the Firearms (Heavier Penalties) Act 1971, Firearms Act 1960, Kidnapping Act 1961, Armed Forces Act 1972, Water Services Industries Act 2006, Strategic Trade Act 2010 and Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

As of October this year, there were 65,222 prisoners, including 1,281 death row inmates.- FMT News, 26/12/2018

Sabah lawyers support move to abolish death penalty

Sabah lawyers support move to abolish death penalty

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Law Society (SLS) has voiced support for the push by de facto law minister Liew Vui Keong to abolish the death penalty and impose a moratorium on all executions until then.
SLS president Brendon Soh told FMT the right to life was enshrined in the constitution.
“This makes the intentional taking away of life an affront to that right,” he said.
“The death penalty is contrary to the meaning of humanity, mercy and sanctity of life.”

He said such a harsh punishment, including for drug-related offences, had no place in any society that valued life, justice and mercy.
He also noted instances of trials in court which had been compromised, leading to a miscarriage of justice.
He said these individuals had been convicted thanks to false evidence given by prosecution witnesses but later overturned on appeal while the false witnesses were charged with perjury and imprisoned for their act.
“Retired High Court judge Ian Chin, who supports the abolishment of the death penalty, has said there is no judiciary in the world that can guarantee that innocent lives will not be taken.
“He also did not dismiss the fact that there has been evidence to indicate that even well-functioning legal systems have sentenced to death men and women who were subsequently proven innocent,” he said.
For example, Soh said, there were 83 cases of innocent people in the US who were wrongly sentenced to death between 2007 and 2017.
The contributing causes of their wrongful convictions included official misconduct, perjury or false accusations, false or misleading forensic evidence, inadequate legal defence, false or fabricated confessions and mistaken eyewitness identification.
In the case of Malaysia, Soh said the mandatory death penalty for certain crimes, especially drug-related offences, did not appear to have a sufficient deterrent effect.
Liew said in October that the total number of prisoners earlier that month stood at 59,997, with 1,279 on death row.
“In less than three weeks, there was an increase of 5,225 prisoners with two prisoners sentenced to death,” Soh said. “Of the 65,222 prisoners, about 55% or 36,313 are in prison for drug-related offences.
“Most of them were found to be drug abusers, which calls for treatment rather than imprisonment.
“The menace of drugs is also reflected in the 1,281 death row inmates as 927 of them were sentenced for drug trafficking, a capital offence under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.”
The statistics, he said, showed that victims of circumstances had been charged instead of the real perpetrators.
“Despite the death penalty, murder and drug trafficking have not decreased. In fact, there appears to be no significant reduction in the crimes for which the death penalty is currently mandatory,” he said. - FMT News, 19/12/2018

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

MADPET -Restore Moratorium On Use Of Draconian Laws And Immediately Release Those Detained Without Trial

Media Statement:- 6/12/2018


Pakatan Harapan risk becoming like previous government after coming into power? 

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) is shocked with the announcement that the government is lifting the moratorium of the use of draconian laws like Sedition Act 1948, Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA); Security Offences (Special Measures)  Act 2012 (SOSMA); the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA). Amongst the Pakatan Harapan election promises was the abolition of these draconian laws, and in October 2018, the announcement of the Cabinet decision to impose a moratorium on application of these laws pending abolition/amendment was hopeful. We hoped we will finally be rid of the bad laws but now the government backtracks and says it will use these laws.

The Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo was reported saying, that "The use of this act (in the moratorium) will continue for now. The proposed amendments are still in process, and will be announced when the government is ready to formulate a new policy,"(New Straits Times, 3/12/2018).

Administrative Power To Detain People Without Judicial Oversight Is Unjust

To prevent police and government abuse of power, the law provides that a person arrested shall be brought before a Magistrate for a remand application, if the police need to detain a suspect for more than 24 hours. During this application, the Magistrate will consider the police’s reasons, and the arguments of the suspect (and/or his/her lawyer), and then decide justly whether to refuse the police application, or to grant the said remand application. If the remand application is granted, then the Magistrate will grant a remand order for a fixed number of days. If the police after the expiry of this remand period, they can come again and apply for further remand but the maximum shall generally not be more than 14 days from the date of arrest.

If SOSMA, POCA and/or POTA is used, then this check and balance provided by the Magistrate to prevent abuse of powers and miscarriage of justice by the police, enforcement agencies and/or government, brought about by prolonged and unnecessary detention of suspects, is avoided.

If SOSMA is used, then there is no more the requirement for the police to bring the person arrested before the Magistrate within 24 hours. The police can simply continue to detain the ‘suspect’ for up to 28 days.
If POCA and POTA are relied on, the need to produce before a Magistrate within 24 hours is still there, but if POCA is going to be used, then they can get a remand order for 21 days.

Magistrate’s ability to evaluate the reasonableness of further remand and for how long is completely removed by the police using SOSMA, POCA and/or POTA.

Depriving the Innocent Of Employment And Income Is Wrong

For workers, this prolonged detention in remand, means possible loss of employment. Workers may have to utilize their limited annual leave, and when that is over, some employers may allow for unpaid leave but others may simply dismiss the worker.

For the self-employed or in small business, this detention results in a loss of income which will seriously impact the well-being of their families and dependents, even children. Malaysia, at the moment, still do not have a criminal compensation scheme that would compensate detention of the innocent, being those that ultimately are not charged in court and/or found guilty after a fair trial.

Denied Fait Trial and subjected to administrative detention/restriction

For the Detention Without Trial laws like POCA and POTA, it is even more unjust – as the reasons used for the Detention/Restrictions imposed still cannot be challenged in court. It is most disappointing that this new Pakatan Harapan government, who has so many leaders, who had been in the past personally been victims, or a family members of victims of such draconian Detention Without Trial laws, today takes the position that these laws can be still used.

The PH government should have immediately released all in Detention/Restriction under Detention Without Trial Laws but sadly, the government has been silent. Repealing such laws was a promise but then we have heard little about this.

Sufficient Laws Available Without Having to Resort to Draconian Unjust Laws

Following the incident at a temple in Selangor, which saw many arrests, the PH government seem to have abandoned its principles, and is resorting to use that very same bad laws that they wanted to get rid of.

There are sufficient laws available in Malaysia, and as such there is really no need to resort to these draconian laws, which we all know is unjust, and ought to be speedily repealed.

MADPET is disappointed with the procrastination of the Pakatan Harapan government in repealing these bad laws and/or provisions in law. The principle that no one should be presumed guilty until they have been tried and convicted after a fair trial, is something the government must never forget and always practice.

MADPET urges the Malaysian government to be strong and committed to justice, and re-impose the moratorium on the usage of these draconian laws including the Sedition Act 1948, Section 263,  233 and such vague provisions of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA); Security Offences (Special Measures)  Act 2012 (SOSMA); The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA);

MADPET calls on the government of Malaysia to immediately repeal all bad draconian laws, given that almost 7 months have passed since the new government came into being;

MADPET calls on the Attorney General to expedite the preparation of the required Bills for the repeal of draconian laws, and to advice the Prime Minister and the Cabinet to not backtrack or use these bad laws pending repeal;

MADPET calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all those currently still being detained and/or restricted under Detention Without Trial laws;

MADPET urges the government to not use SOSMA or the Detention Without Trial laws, which oust the ability and powers of the Magistrate and/or Courts to effectively ensure that the police and/or government do not abuse their powers, especially in the detention of mere suspects, not even accused persons, for long durations;

MADPET urges the government to demonstrate care for families especially children, whose parent suffers the risk of loss of employment and/or income due to detention for a long period. The government should ensure suspects in prolonged detention do not lose their employment, and possibly ensure that they be fully paid by employers during such police and/or government detention;

MADPET urges the government to enact a law that provides for compensation for loss of liberty, for persons detained who never are charged and/or convicted. It is wrong to deny an innocent person their liberty and means of earning and not compensate them.

MADPET urges the government to adhere to its promises to uphold the cause of justice, human rights and the rule of law;

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