Malay Man Sentenced to Death for Marijuana Trafficking

By Victoria Kim 12/02/14

Malaysia's notoriously draconian drug laws are in need of serious reform.

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A Malay man was sentenced to death for marijuana trafficking by the country's High Court last Thursday.

Akbar Ali Abdul Rahman, a 37 year old building supervisor from Penang, was found guilty of trafficking 9,401 grams (20 pounds) of marijuana in October 2013.

Rahman received the death sentence under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which states that “trafficking in dangerous drugs” is to be “punished on conviction with death.” In other words, according to the law, Rahman’s crime is punishable with a mandatory death sentence. Malaysia is notorious for its use of the death penalty. Drug trafficking crimes are believed to account for the majority of death sentences in the country.

According to Malaysians Against Death Penalty & Torture (MADPET), 228 out of 441 people hanged in Malaysia between 1960-2011 were convicted of drug trafficking; the rest were convicted of possession of illegal weapons, conspiracy, and kidnapping.

Proponents of ending the death penalty in the country suggest that for starters, the government should amend the Dangerous Drugs Act, to return the discretion of sentencing to the judge. Singapore, a country that once dealt mandatory death sentences to drug traffickers, enacted such reforms in 2013, allowing judges the option of commuting sentences in certain cases.

At the time of their report, MADPET disclosed that “among those awaiting the gallows, 470 convicts were involved in drug trafficking,” while 204 were to be hanged for murder and 13 for possession of illegal weapons.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr