GEORGE TOWN: Gerakan has welcomed the move to amend Section 39B(2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (DDA), saying it is the first step towards total abolition of death penalty in future.
The amendment will see judges having discretionary power not to impose death penalty on drug trafficking offences.
“Gerakan welcomes the amendment to DDA to abolish mandatory death penalty for drug traffickers.
“We have made our stand clear and even organised a campaign to call for abolition of death penalty since 2013.
“The amendment to DDA is a breakthrough and first step towards total abolition of death penalty in future,” its Central Legal and Human Rights Bureau chairman Datuk Baljit Singh told the New Straits Times today.
At the same time, he said there was concern over the DDA amendment that public prosecutor was granted too much power.
This is related to the issuance of a certificate to verify the accused are only couriers and had assisted in disrupting drug trafficking activities, would be spared the death penalty.
“The court still has no option but to sentence to death all those accused persons who are denied the certificate,” he said.
The Draft Bill of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (Act 234) was tabled for first reading at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had said that the move would enable the courts to mete out the appropriate punishment against offenders other than the death sentence, which is mandatory under current law.
Meanwhile, Baljit called on the government to heed the legitimate concerns from various parties and make amendment to grant sole discretionary power to the court, on whether to impose the death sentence or life imprisonment on the accused, without the involvement of the public prosecutor.
He stressed the importance in ensuring the objective and spirit of the DDA amendment to abolish the mandatory death penalty on drug trafficking offences was not ‘hijacked’ by technical flaws.
He also reminded that the judicial authority of the court in sentencing should not be ‘tampered’ by the proposed involvement of public prosecutor through the issuance of certificate.
He also cautioned the provision was open to abuse and corruption which warranted a review from the government.