Govt tables amendment to allow judges to decide penalty for drug traffickers

BY KAMLES KUMAR
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has tabled the amendment for first reading in parliament. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 23 — Putrajaya tabled today an amendment to the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (DDA) to return discretionary powers to the court instead of imposing the mandatory death sentence on drug traffickers.

The amendment, tabled for first reading today by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, seeks to revert Section 39B as law.

The provision, introduced in an amendment to the DDA or Act 234 in 1975, had allowed a person convicted of drug trafficking to be punished with jail and whipping or death.

It was removed in 1983 so that drug traffickers could only be punished with death.

Under the new amendment to Section 39B(2) of the DDA, any person who is found guilty of trafficking dangerous drugs can be be punished with either the death penalty or life in prison and whipping with a minimum of 15 strokes.

The Bill also states several circumstances for the courts to consider when deciding whether to mete jail for life or the death penalty.

Among the circumstances for the court to consider are the lack of evidence against the convicted person to show “buying and selling of a dangerous drug” at the time of arrest, “no involvement of agent provocateur” and the convicted person’s role was merely in “transporting, carrying, sending or delivering a dangerous drug.”

Another consideration is if the public prosecutor certifies in writing to the court that the person convicted has assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside the country.