Bar urges court to avoid ‘travesty of justice’ as more jailed for breaching MCO

More than 20,000 people have been arrested since last month for violating the travel ban under the movement control order.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has questioned an apparent disparity in punishments meted out to influential figures and ordinary people for flouting the movement control order (MCO).

The Bar said while it was within the powers of the court to hand down sentences, it must be carried out “judiciously in order to avoid any travesty of justice”.

It reminded judges that MCO violators should not be treated as those who committed violent crime.

“Reformative considerations must be foremost in the mind of the court when handing down sentences to those who violate the MCO,” Bar president Salim Bashir said.

This comes as a single mother prepares to appeal against a 30-day jail sentence for violating the MCO two weeks ago.

B Lisa Christina, who has a six-year-old son and had pleaded guilty to the charge, is currently serving her jail term. She is set to appear in the High Court today for her appeal.

The government declared the MCO last month to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, invoking the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988.

Since then, more than 20,000 have been arrested or charged in court.

Those flouting the MCO are liable to a maximum fine of RM1,000, jail of up to six months, or both.

But Salim said Section 25 of the Act allows the Health director-general to offer compounds to offenders instead of exposing them to imprisonment.

“We urge the director-general of Health to exercise this discretion conferred by law.

“While violating the MCO should not be taken lightly, sending violators to jail is a cure that is worse than the disease,” said Salim.

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