Monday, November 28

Rep: More studies needed over ‘diyat’ being proposed as substitute for death penalty


Mohd Chee Kadir

MIRI (June 18): More studies are needed over the proposal of ‘diyat’ to be considered as a substitute for the mandatory death sentence.

In Arabic, the word translates to ‘blood money’. In Islamic law, it is compensation payable to the victim or next-of-kin of a victim of a case of murder, physical harm or property damage.

It is an alternative to the ‘qisas’, which in syariah, provides for equal punishment of the crime committed.

“I welcome it, but more studies should be conducted to find the effective mechanism or guidelines pertaining to its enforcement.

“To be fair to the victim, or the victim’s family, the terms of the settlement under diyat must obtain the approval from the court so that justice is ensured to both parties,” Kabong assemblyman Mohd Chee Kadir, who is also a lawyer with both civil and syariah backgrounds, told The Borneo Post.

According to him, diyat is provided for in syariah law and has been practised in Muslim society.

It was reported that Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Idris Ahmad said the government was having a ‘lengthy’ discussion over the proposal of diyat being made as a substitute for the mandatory death sentence.

Malaysia has imposed a moratorium on executions since 2018, when it also pledged to abolish the mandatory and discretionary capital punishment.

However, the death penalty is to remain on the books and moving forward, the judges would have the discretion to impose alternative penalty for the 23 crimes where the death sentence is provided for.

Idris also said there should be a need to set up a special committee, which would be handled by Minister in Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, and the views of the relevant parties would be sought.

Several lawyers had remarked that giving compensation to the family of victims of serious crimes could stir public anger since it would create a ‘forgiveness without punishment’ situation.

Quoting a report on the matter published by a news portal, Suzana Norlihan remarked: “Islam teaches forgiveness, but members of the public would still be outraged if a rich offender got away without punishment after paying diyat, which he could afford, and may repeat the offence to an extent that could cause the public to lose faith in the criminal justice system.”

She said the government should take public interest into account in the discussion, adding that ‘Islam also teaches that any law should consider the present situation in the country, especially if corruption was rampant’.

“Nonetheless, I believe that diyat would benefit families of the deceased victims, who were the sole breadwinners or caregivers of their households.”

Another lawyer Akberdin Abdul Kader regarded diyat as ‘doable’ in Malaysia.

“It has been carried out in Middle Eastern countries, but the government must create guidelines on the payment rate according to the gravity of the crime committed,” he pointed out.