Key Updates on Criminal Law
There are presently 11 offences which carry the mandatory death penalty in Malaysia. After the Special Committee to Review Alternative Sentences to the Mandatory Death Penalty, the Prime Minister's Department (Parliament and Law) arrived at a decision to review and amend the laws on the death penalty, which would give judges a wider discretion in sentencing.
According to Parliament, there are 1,342 convicts on death row in Malaysia as at February 2022. A moratorium against the death penalty was given to the convicts in June 2022.
According to the Law and Institutional Reform Minister, the amendments will not abolish the death penalty entirely but gives a wider discretion to the courts to decide on the appropriate punishment, with a focus on rehabilitative and restorative justice.
Seven bills were tabled for the first reading in the Dewan Rakyat in October 2022 (listed below) with most of the amendments focused on abolishing the mandatory death sentence. The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2022 will amend the Criminal Justice Act 1953 (Act 345) by inserting a new section, 3A, to clarify the terms of life imprisonment.
- Dangerous Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2022
- Kidnapping (Amendment) Bill 2022
- Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2022
- Arms (Amendment) Bill 2022
- Penal Code (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2022
- Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) (No.3) Bill 2022
- Firearms (Increased Penalties) (Amendment) Bill 2022
On 15 December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 9th resolution for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty, with almost two thirds majority in favour of the resolution, including Malaysia.
Did you know that the act of stalking may soon be a criminal offence in Malaysia? On 3.10.2022, the Dewan Rakyat unanimously passed two anti-stalking bills.
The first bill [Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 2022] sought to add a new offence in the Penal Code, i.e. section 507A. According to the new provision, a person commits the offence of stalking if he or she repeatedly by any act of harassment, intending to cause, or knowing or ought to know that the act is likely to cause, distress, fear or alarm to any person of the person's safety. The offence is punishable by imprisonment for up to three years, a fine, or both upon conviction.
The second bill [Penal Code (Amendment) Bill 2022] sought to insert a new Chapter XA entitled "Protection Order in Cases of Stalking" into the Criminal Procedure Code. In summary, this would empower the Court, upon application, to issue a protection order against a person who is being investigated for or is charged with an offence of stalking under the new section 507A of the Penal Code.
However, it should be noted that following the dissolution of Parliament on 10.10.2022, the anti-stalking bills were not tabled in the Senate (Dewan Negara) during the same Parliamentary debate. As a result, the anti-stalking bills would need to be tabled again in the Dewan Rakyat and subsequently by the Dewan Negara in order for the bills to be enacted.
In February 2023, the Deputy Minister from the Prime Minister's Department confirmed that a memorandum by Cabinet Ministers on the anti-stalking bills will be tabled, and subject to the Cabinet Ministers' approval of the memorandum, the two bills will be tabled again at the Dewan Rakyat during the ongoing Parliament session. [Read about it in the news: Anti-stalking bill: Improvements to ensure all aspects of legislation covered]
Despite the delay in the passing of the two anti-stalking bills, the steps taken towards the amendment of the current law have been most welcomed, as currently the law does not criminalise stalking, nor does it offer any protection for victims of stalking.
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