Tough To End Overcrowding As 40 Of Prisoners Are Foreigners Says Mp


Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar (centre), former Court of Appeal judge Mah Weng Kwai (right) and former Hospital Bahagia consultant forensic psychiatrist Dr Suarn Singh (left) speaking on prisoners’ rights at a forum.KUALA LUMPUR: Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar said the issue of overcrowding in prisons cannot be solved easily even if foreign prisoners are sent back to their home countries to serve their time
Speaking at a forum here on prisoners’ rights, she said that foreign detainees made up almost 40% of the total prison population and this had become a huge burden on the Prisons Department
“Engaging with other countries is always a thorny issue. It is not easy when we have to deal with different authorities,” she said, responding to a question posed by a former judge in the forum
Former High Court judge Louis O’Hara had asked whether the government had considered any legal framework to repatriate foreigners back to their home countries to serve their sentence there as a way to reduce overcrowding in Malaysian prisons
The forum was told that more than 70,000 inmates are now held in Malaysian prisons
Human rights lawyer Abdul Rashid Ismail said that another issue that may be a stumbling block to the repatriation proposal would be the mandatory death sentence, imposed for murder, drug trafficking, kidnapping and security offences
Minister in Prime Minister’s Department Liew Vui Keong recently said that the government will table a bill to repeal the mandatory death penalty for 11 serious offences from March next year
“I worked with the foreign embassies and they are willing to have bilateral talks on this matter but it seems that it took a long time for the discussions to begin
“However, when it comes to death row prisoners, we cannot send them back because of the death sentence passed on to them,” the former Human Rights Society (Hakam) president said
Former Court of Appeal judge and Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai, who also spoke at the forum, raised the issue of possible re-sentencing of prisoners on death row
“The public reaction to the abolition of the death penalty has been very strong. I don’t think there will be a total abolition. They also have the discretionary death penalty, where a judge has the discretion to decide to pass the death or life sentence.”Mah also questioned whether the death sentence will be replaced with a natural life sentence
“Whatever the alternative, a lengthy jail sentence like 30 years may not be the answer,” he added. - FMT

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