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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Suhakam concerned about Act 355 amendments

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has expressed its concern over the proposed amendments to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 (Act 355).
"The universal human right to equality before the law protects all persons from discrimination in matters concerning laws and justice.
"Suhakam stands firm in its position that everyone must be treated equally under all laws including religious laws, believing that equality is a necessary aspect of a just and fair society," Suhakam chairperson Razali Ismail said in a statement today.
The amendments to Act 355, which were proposed by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, seek to increase the punishment cap for syariah offences, to a RM100,000 fine, 30 years in jail, and 100 strokes of the cane.
Proponents of the bill have repeatedly said that this law will only affect Muslims in an attempt to allay public fears about the amendments.
Razali also pointed out that caning or lashing in any setting violates international law, which absolutely prohibits torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment.
These punishments and torture are also prohibited by international treaties that Malaysia has acceded to, he said, such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw), Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
"Suhakam is concerned with the proposal to impose such severe and grossly disproportionate punishments through the amendments.
"The proposed amendments have far-reaching consequences to all, even if (they are) not applicable to all Malaysians," Razali said.
That is why, he said, all Malaysians have the right to question whether their rights to liberty and dignity are being protected with these proposed amendments.
The concept of proportionality is one of the fundamental principles of sentencing, grounded on the premise that a sentence must be of a length and type to be just, he stressed.
"Suhakam underlines that any punishment in law must have appropriate checks and balances, be in line with universally accepted human rights standards and take into account the sentiments of all other groups of persons and religions in the matrix of society.

"Parliament must accordingly ensure that all laws passed by it are reasonable, equitable and proportionate, as well as progressive and fair," he said.
On the last day of the previous Dewan Rakyat sitting, the government decided to clear the path for Hadi to table his motion to amend Act 355.
However, Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia postponed the debate to the next parliament sitting in June.- Mkini

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