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Bill to abolish mandatory death penalty tabled for first reading

The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 will be presented for a second reading during the current sitting.

Bernama
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An activist holds a placard at a protest in Kuala Lumpur against the execution of a Malaysian on death row in Singapore. The government has agreed to replace the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia with alternative punishments subject to the discretion of the courts. Photo: AFP
An activist holds a placard at a protest in Kuala Lumpur against the execution of a Malaysian on death row in Singapore. The government has agreed to replace the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia with alternative punishments subject to the discretion of the courts. Photo: AFP

The Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Bill 2023 was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat today.

It was tabled by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman Said.

Azalina said when tabling the bill that it would be presented for second reading during the current sitting.

According to the blue copy of the bill circulated in Parliament today, it aims to abolish the mandatory death penalty, change the punishment to life imprisonment and whipping, as well as provide for matters related to it through the amendment of seven related acts.

The acts are the Penal Code (Act 574), Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971 (Act 37), Arms Act 1960 (Act 206), Kidnapping Act 1961 (Act 365), Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (Act 234), Strategic Trade Act 2010 (Act 708), and Criminal Procedure Code (Act 593).
 
The amendments to the acts are in line with the government's policy to abolish the mandatory death penalty in all legislation.

In addition, the amendment to Act 574 is being made to replace the mandatory death penalty with a discretionary death penalty, including for offences under Sections 121A, 130C, 302 and 374A of the Penal Code.

With the amendment, the courts will have discretion on whether to impose a death sentence or prison sentence for a period not exceeding 40 years.

The government previously agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty by imposing an alternative sentence subject to the courts' discretion.

The decision was reached following the presentation of a report by the Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty at the Cabinet meeting on June 8, 2022.

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