KUALA LUMPUR, June 10 — An Asia-Pacific anti-death penalty group today commended the Malaysian government's decision to review and abolish the mandatory death penalty.

“The mandatory death penalty regime does not provide justice as it deprives judges of the discretion to sentence based on the situation of each individual offender.

“This regime has resulted in absurd sentences that have led to public outcries, such as those involving Hairun Jalmani, a single mother sentenced to death for drug trafficking in Tawau, and Mainthan Arumugam, a person on death row for a murder that never happened,” Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN) said in a statement.

This comes after law minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Putrajaya had agreed to abolish the mandatory death penalty, giving judges to assess and sentence cases based on individual merits and situations.

ADPAN's executive coordinator Dobby Chew also welcomed Putrajaya's announcement on the matter, saying that things are finally moving in the right direction.

“While we celebrate the good news, this is only the first step in reforming our criminal justice system and the diminishing role for the death penalty,” Chew said on Twitter.

The Malaysian government first floated the idea of abolishing the mandatory death penalty back in 2013 but only managed an amendment in the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which allowed judges discretion in sentencing.

In 2018, the Pakatan Harapan government announced a total abolition, only to backtrack on it.

The Cabinet agreed to a further study to be carried out on the proposed substitute sentences for 11 offences carrying the mandatory death penalty, one of which is under Section 29B of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952.

Before the announcement, judges were required to impose the death penalty on those convicted of trafficking drugs.