KUALA TERENGGANU, 3 September — The Kuala Terengganu Syariah High Court today executed six strokes of the cane against two women charged with “attempting to have sex” under Section 30 and 59(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Takzir Terengganu). The caning contravenes several legal provisions, including the Prison Act 1995 and Prison Regulations 2000.
The women were each sentenced to a fine of RM3,300 and six strokes of the cane each on 12 August by syariah judge Kamalruazmi Ismail.
Prison Act 1955 and Prison Regulations 2000 stipulates that caning can only be carried out against prisoners. As the sentences of the two women did not include imprisonment, they were not considered prisoners as defined by the Prison Act and Prison Regulations. This, despite the fact that they were sentenced to caning. The Kuala Terengganu Syariah High Court and Malaysian Prison Department therefore may have acted against the law in its execution today.
Malaysia’s laws are inconsistent in relation to caning of women. Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code prohibits corporal punishment against female prisoners of any age. However, provisions under the syariah law allows women to be caned. These inconsistencies create confusion in the jurisdiction of the Prison Department thus directly affecting the rights of women in Malaysia protected by Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution against gender discrimination.
The role of the federal government is brought into question as the unlawful execution was carried out by the Prison Department under the Ministry of Home Affairs. Questions are raised on why the execution was authorized and officers from the department appointed to carry out the sentence.
The execution that took place at the Kuala Terengganu Syariah High Court is a travesty and a grave miscarriage of justice.
Definitions or prisoner
Prison Act 1995 defines a prisoner as a person, whether convicted or not, under confinement in a prison and in relation to a convicted prisoner, includes a prisoner released on parole.
The Prison Regulations 2000 defines ‘convicted prisoner’ as a person who is convicted by the court and has been sentenced to imprisonment.
Section 289 of the Criminal Procedure Code
No sentence of whipping shall be executed by installments and none of the following persons shall be punishable with whipping
b. Males sentenced to death
c. Males whom the Court considers to be more than 50 years olf of age, expect males sentenced to whipping under section 376, 377C, 377CA, or 377E of the Penal Code