|‘Sentencing council will boost faith in judiciary’|
|Thursday, 07 March 2013 09:00am|
©The Sun Daily (Used by permission)
by Michelle chun
KUALA LUMPUR: The establishment of a Sentencing Council in Malaysia would see greater public confidence in the judicial system as there is more public engagement and awareness of the process of sentencing.
Court of Appeals Judge Datuk Azahar Mohamed said much of the criticism of sentences meted out to criminals arise from the public’s lack of knowledge or awareness on how sentences are determined.
“In my personal opinion, a sentencing council would not only set out guidelines for the courts and be useful for young magistrates, but it will allow public to give feedback and responses when coming up with the guidelines.
“Therefore, because public opinion is included in the process, there will be greater public confidence because of a transparent sentencing process at work for the public to
see and indirect public involvement in the sentencing process,” he said at a dialogue session organised by the Malaysian Bar Council on Tuesday.
Azahar said sentencing guidelines, however, play a solely advisory role as the judiciary must maintain its independence and inflexible guidelines may tie the hands of judges.
“As judges, we have to take in all facts and circumstances of the case when making our decision and we are generally cautious and careful when meting out punishment.
“A sentencing council that sets out guidelines we can refer to would obviously promote greater consistency in sentencing such as setting out the range of punishment for offences,” he said.
Criminal lawyer V. Sithambaram said a sentencing council should result in greater, but not absolute, consistency in sentencing.
“Absolute consistency would likely be at the expense of justice.
“No guideline is infallible and the ultimate responsibility of sentencing remains with the judges,” he said.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohd Nazri had announced the government was looking into setting up a sentencing council through legislation passed in Parliament to ensure transparency and accountability.
Sithambaram said in the meantime, an ad hoc council could be established by the chief justice to draw up some guideline.
|< Prev||Next >|