MARUAH’s letter to the ST Forum: A-G should give reasons for prosecuting a case

A-G should give reasons for prosecuting a case

We are troubled by the lack of transparency and apparent inequality in the different charges brought against two men (‘Apex court clears air on A-G’s power’; Wednesday).

Because of the different drug trafficking charges, Ramalingam Ravinthran faces the hangman, while Sundar Arujunan was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment and 24 strokes of the cane.

The Attorney-General should have to disclose his reasons for specific prosecutorial decisions. The Court of Appeal stated that the courts are not empowered to review the Attorney-General’s exercise of his prosecutorial discretion, provided he has not acted unlawfully or arbitrarily.

But unless the Attorney-General explains the reasons, an accused person will, practically speaking, never be able to prove that the Attorney-General has acted unlawfully or arbitrarily.

Public faith in the rule of law requires an appropriate level of transparency and accountability by all stakeholders, including the Attorney-General.

We are also concerned by the apparent lack of clear, objective and transparent criteria in prosecutorial decisions, even in capital cases like drug trafficking.

What are the factors that determine when to reduce charges? Is this affected in any way by cooperation in the prosecutorial process?

What happens if a cooperative offender, having escaped the gallows, later recants and changes his testimony, as apparently happened in this case?

While we condemn the drug trade which has devastated so many lives, even criminals deserve fair and equal treatment in the justice system.

Braema Mathi (Ms)

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