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Drug traffickers may avoid mandatory death penalty under proposed legal amendment

KUALA LUMPUR: Drug traffickers could soon escape the mandatory death penalty under a proposed amendment to the Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act (1952).
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said said the amendment could see judges being allowed to impose an appropriate penalty, such as jail terms, instead of the mandatory death sentence.
She said the Cabinet had decided on the amendment after deliberating on a research carried out by the International Centre for Law and Legal Studies.
The research report was presented to the Cabinet on March 1.
"The Cabinet unanimously decided that the amendment to Section 39B of the Dangerous Drugs Act was necessary," she said in a reply to Ramkarpal Singh (DAP - Bukit Gelugor).
She noted that in the past, there may have been cases where judges had no choice but to mete out the death sentence on a drug trafficker as there were no other punishments available.
Malaysia is known as having one of the harshest drug laws in the world.
Human rights advocates have called for a review of the mandatory death penalty for drug trafficking as first steps towards full abolition of the death penalty, which they deemed was cruel.

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