Malaysia govt proposes to allow court to decide on mandatory death in drug offences

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Malaysian government has proposed to revert to the original position of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 which will allow the court to decide a punishment of either death or life imprisonment with whipping.

Under the Act currently, any person convicted of trafficking in dangerous drugs shall be punished with death under Section 39B.

The section was first included via an amendment to the Act in 1975.

The amendment originally stated that a person convicted shall receive either death or life imprisonment together with whipping.

However, the law was amended in 1983 to remove the judicial discretion and to provide for only the mandatory death penalty.

The Bill was tabled for first reading by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said on Thursday (Nov 23).

In the latest proposed amendments, the government is seeking to amend subsection 39B(2) of the Act to empower a court to impose a punishment of death or imprisonment for life and whipping of not less than 15 strokes for the offence of drug trafficking.

"However, in imposing the punishment of imprisonment for life and whipping of not less than 15 strokes, the court may regard only any of the circumstances specified," according to the Bill.

The proposed circumstances specified include, among others, that there was no evidence of a person buying and selling a dangerous drug at the time when the person convicted was arrested. It must also be proven that there was no involvement of an agent provocateur and the involvement of the person convicted should be restricted to only transporting, carrying, sending or delivering a dangerous drug. In addition, the prosecutor must also certify in writing to the court that the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside the country.