KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) is appalled by the revelation that minor offenders sentenced to do community service have been made to wear green vests with the word “Monyet” (monkey) emblazoned on them in Semporna, Sabah.

Its legal advocate Charles Hector said although community service as a sentence is not the issue, the word “monkey” on their vest is just wrong.

“Even convicted persons must be treated with dignity. Doing community service in public is punishment enough. There is no need for any derogatory name association with even the guilty,“ he said in a statement.

“A person who is found guilty certainly needs to be punished, but we must not go overboard to permanently scar their dignity, name or reputation. After serving their just sentences, we hope that they will be reintegrated into society as good contributing citizens, never to again resort to crime.”

He added that in May 2017 that the then Woman, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun was said to have mentioned a total of 4,620 youths, aged between 18 and 21, were punished with community service between 2008 until 2016 for their involvement in social ills and crime.

“Azizah said the community service was aimed at rehabilitating and preventing young offenders from repeating past mistakes - restoring them to society through sentencing, rehabilitation and awareness’.

“It is not clear as to how many adults were sentenced to community service in Malaysia, but the stress should be that any punishment, including community service is ultimately rehabilitate a person not to permanently scar them, and indirectly their families as well.

“It may be acceptable for those sentenced to do community service to don brightly colored vests with words like ‘Community Service For Committing Crimes’ or such, but the derogatory branding with words like Monyet must end.”