Suaram: Heightened intolerance towards dissent (The SUN- 21 july 2010)

Suaram: Heightened intolerance towards dissent
By Karen Arukesamy

KUALA LUMPUR (July 21, 2010): Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) lamented that the government has “yet to respond” pro-actively despite numerous recommendations made by human rights NGOs. Its 2009 Human Rights Report launched today, highlighted several key trends in declining human rights last year.

It cited perceived abuses of power by law enforcement agencies, heightened intolerance towards dissent and resistance to reform, and greater respect for human rights.

“With the massive arrests by the police over peaceful protests and street demonstrations, the freedom of speech, expression and assembly have been seriously undermined in the country,” said Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong.

Kua said while the government had agreed to review the Internal Security Act (ISA), it has ignored two other detention-without-trial laws – the Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act – despite their similarities with the ISA.

Other laws like the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, and Section 27 of the Police Act also remain firmly in place, undermining the civil liberties, the report said.

Among others, the report noted that there were eight deaths in custody – seven in police custody and political aide Teoh Beng Hock’s death while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Besides that, 88 people were shot dead by police in 2009 with not a single police officer known to be held accountable for any of those deaths.

Suaram documentation and monitoring coordinator John Liu, who presented the report, said this was a high number considering there were only 13 such cases in 2007, according to official sources.

“These cases continue to occur at an alarming rate in 2010, including the case of 15-year-old Aminulrashyid Hamzah, who was shot dead by police on April 26 in Shah Alam, and on July 5, four robbers were shot dead by police in Pahang,” he said.

“ Malaysia’s refusal to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture despite being repeatedly urged to do so shows the government accepts torture as a form of punishment,” Liu said. — theSun