Muslims convicted of Shariah offences should be placed in exclusive prisons instead of with inmates from the criminal system, said the Malaysian Association for Muslim Lawyers.
Its president, Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, argued that Shariah offences were largely victimless crimes and should not be treated similarly as those from the Penal Code.
“Most of these cases are behavioural in nature, it would be unfair for them to be placed in a civil prison with drug and rape offenders,” he was quoted as saying by the Berita Harian newspaper.
“They should be placed in a special prison that provides education and explanation on Islam to ensure rehabilitation”
He said this at a forum on efforts to increase punishments under the the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 yesterday.
He also denied the proposal would lead to hudud, the Islamic penal law, and argued that the higher punishments were prevent jurisdiction shopping.
“The criminals would definitely choose a court that gives a lesser sentence, hence where is the justice for the victims in the relevant cases,” Zainul said.
It is not clear what he based this argument upon, as there are currently no overlaps between Shariah offences that are religious in nature and crimes under the Penal Code.
However, such overlaps would exist if hudud is implemented in the country.
Parliament is due to debate PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s private Bill to enhance Shariah punishments.
It proposes to allow Shariah courts to impose maximum penalties of up to 30 years’ jail, 100 strokes of the cane, and RM100,000 in fines.
The limits now are three years’ jail, six strokes, and RM5,000.