BHEUU studying establishment of sentencing council

11 Jul 2023 04:56pm

PUTRAJAYA - The Prime Minister's Department’s (JPM) Legal Affairs Division (BHEUU) is in the midst of studying the establishment of a sentencing council to review all criminal sentences including drug-related sentences in Malaysian legislations.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the council would provide guidelines and reduce imprisonment sentences by promoting more rehabilitation sentences and restorative based sentences across Malaysian criminal legislation.

She said the BHEUU was also studying ways to overhaul Offenders Compulsory Attendance Act 1954.

"It is to promote imposition of community-based rehabilitation instead of imprisonment for offenders sentenced to imprisonment for three years and below, in particular for first time offenders.

"This could include minor drug offences which make up 63 per cent of prison inmates in Malaysia,” she said in a statement issued in conjunction with the meeting of the Cabinet committee on eradicating drugs yesterday, which was chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Addressing the overcrowding issue in prisons is a human rights priority for the MADANI government, given the detrimental risks faced by inmates due to overcrowded conditions, Azalina said.

"I hope to present the outcomes of the above efforts as a joint Cabinet paper with the Home Ministry (KDN) and the Ministry of Health (MOH) by the next parliament sitting at the end of 2023,” she said.

She said it was vital for the law, and enforcement agencies to keep up with the times, especially with regard to the progress of sophisticated manufacturing of synthetic drugs and methods of abuse.

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"The existing Malaysian laws on drugs were made in the 1950s. At this juncture, the discretion of the judiciary is especially important in addressing drug traffickers separately from drug abusers, and for the latter, a case by case treatment such as whether the individual is a first time user, etc.

"The discretion of the judiciary is also vital in introducing rehabilitation options instead of sentences focussing solely on punishment,” she added.

Understanding that drug dependency is a medical condition, Azalina said the government wished to revise the present approach to the problem of drug dependency.

"We hope to also see the inclusion of medical intervention, treatment, and rehabilitation in addressing drug dependency,” she said.

Yesterday, Ahmad Zahid said the KDN and the National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) had been given three months to coordinate efforts to devise effective initiatives or programmes to curb drug problems. - BERNAMA

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