A total of 1,020 prisoners who have been sentenced to mandatory death and life imprisonment can now file an application in court to review their respective sentences.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Azalina Othman Said said this follows the Revision of Sentence of Death and Imprisonment for Natural Life (Temporary Jurisdiction of the Federal Court) Act 2023 (Act 847) which will come into force tomorrow (Sept 12).
This follows the enforcement of the Abolition of Mandatory Death Penalty Act 2023 (Act 846) on July 4, 2023.
Azalina said that the Cabinet, on Aug 30, agreed with the mechanism of court proceedings in relation to the revision of mandatory death sentences and life imprisonment as proposed after an engagement with stakeholders.
They include the Attorney General's Chambers, the Federal Court chief registrar's office, the Prisons Department, the National Legal Aid Foundation (YBGK), the Malaysian Bar Council, the Sabah Law Society, the Advocates Association of Sarawak, and the Prime Minister's Department's legal affairs division.
"Priority to the implementation of this mechanism includes factors such as the prisoner’s age, level of health, and the period of imprisonment, as well as other considerations," she said.
She said that one of the agreed mechanisms was that for prisoners who were sentenced to death and were unable to appoint a lawyer to represent them in the sentence review process, they could seek legal services through court-assigned lawyers.
For prisoners sentenced to life imprisonment, they can get legal services from YBGK, she said.
"These two legal aid services offered reflect the government's priority and stance in ensuring justice is given to all Malaysians," she said.
She added that the enforcement of Act 847 through the mechanism agreed upon by the Cabinet reflected the government's high commitment to promoting and protecting universal human rights.
"This proves that the principle of restorative justice in the criminal justice system in Malaysia is always maintained.
"This also proves the concern of the Unity Government to give a second chance to prisoners sentenced to death and life imprisonment to return to society and family and continue their survival as ordinary citizens," she said.