Rights groups call for review of disabled man’s attempted suicide conviction in Terengganu

It was reported yesterday that a 38-year-old disabled man was sentenced to six months in prison by the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Terengganu for attempted suicide on December 23.— AFP pic
It was reported yesterday that a 38-year-old disabled man was sentenced to six months in prison by the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Terengganu for attempted suicide on December 23.— AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) and Hakam have called on the attorney general (AG) to review the six-month prison sentence of a disabled man who attempted suicide in Kuala Terengganu.

LFL director Melissa Sasidaran said that the conviction was a “travesty” that served no public interest, especially since the government had announced in October 2019 that it planned to decriminalise attempted suicide.

“We are perplexed as to how this case was prosecuted and tried when it is clear there is no public interest to be served by prosecuting a person who is clearly in dire need of assistance and such travesty can only worsen his situation,” said Melissa in a statement here.

This was echoed by the secretary-general of human rights group Hakam Lim Wei Jiet who said the Malaysian criminal justice system was at risk of coming across as “lacking compassion and humanity” if the man’s incarceration was allowed to continue.

He suggested that the man be offered psychiatric assistance rather than imprisonment.

“There is a serious lack of compassion and humanity in the criminal justice system if a disabled man who has reached such a desperate position in life is punished even further with a jail term. The law should not only be concerned with penalties, but must be tampered with mercy and kindness,” said Lim in a statement today.

It was reported yesterday that a 38-year-old disabled man was sentenced to six months in prison by the Magistrate’s Court in Kuala Terengganu for attempted suicide on December 23.

According to the charges read, he had wanted to take his own life because he is under tremendous pressure.

Melissa pointed out that the man was unrepresented by a lawyer during the court proceeding, and that the prosecution was conducted by a senior police officer instead of a deputy public prosecutor.

“We urge that this practice of prosecution conducted by senior police officers be reviewed in order to prevent the recurrence of such unwarranted prosecution,” she said.

Both Melissa and Lim called for the government to repeal the offence of attempted suicide under Section 309 of the Penal Code.

The government’s proposal to decriminalise attempted suicide this year is currently being studied by the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC).

“In the interest of the accused person and the larger public interest, we therefore call upon the attorney general to immediately review the case and refer the matter to the High Court so that the conviction and sentence can be quashed,” Melissa added.

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