In Malaysia, anyone found carrying 200g or more of proscribed narcotics is automatically presumed guilty of trafficking drugs and subject to a mandatory death sentence. The law does not allow judges any possibility of taking into account the defendant’s personal circumstances or the circumstances of the particular offence. It is under these laws that Shahrul Izani, then aged 19, was found one night in 2003, to have had in his possession 622g of cannabis. He was convicted and given the death penalty in 2009. Sharul has today exhausted all his appeals, and could be executed at any time. Malaysia’s laws relating to sentencing in drug trafficking cases are arguably contrary to international law and in July of 2012 the Malaysian government announced plans to review them. In this context, Amnesty International has started a campaign to have Shahrul’s sentence commuted. While the merits of a death penalty for drug trafficking are debatable, the justification for mandatory sentencing can only be made by considering the particular circumstances of our country and its situation within global drug conduits. In this light it seems unjust and even paradoxical to deny our judges the opportunity to consider the particulars of the accused in passing sentence. Regardless of ones position on the penalty and its mandatory implementation, what is undeniable in my view, is that it is unusually cruel to leave this young man, on death row, facing the reality of a sudden execution, while the laws themselves are deemed worthy of review. God forbid that he is executed, in administrative indifference or haste, on the eve of a repeal of these draconian laws. Please sign the petition here if you believe it is right that his sentence is commuted
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