5TH AUGUST 2011
SUMMARY OF HABEAS CORPUS PROCEEDINGS OF EO6: UNIFIED PUBLIC PRESSURE RELEASED EO6
1. Case: Habeas Corpus hearing of Six EO detainees
a. Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj (Sungai Siput MP and PSM Central committee member)
b. M Sarasvathy (PSM deputy chairman)
c. Choo Chon Kai (Central committee member)
d. M Sukumaran (Central committee member)
e. R Saratbabu (Youth chief)
f. A Letchumanan (Sungai Siput branch secretary)
a. Government of Malaysia
b. Inspector General of Police (IGP) and
c. Home Minister
3. Judge at the High Court: Justice Su Geok Yiam
4. Applicants (EO6) represented by:
a. Haji Sulaiman Abdullah
b. Edmund Bon Tai Soon
c. Yudistra Darma Dorai
d. Maha Balakrishnan
e. James Khong
5. Watching brief by Roger Chan (KL Bar)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) held an observation brief today at the habeas corpus hearing of 6 Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) members who had been detained under the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) on 2 July 2011. The Ordinance allows the Home Minister to detain persons without trial for up to two years which may be renewed indefinitely.
Today, the 6 former detainees withdrew their action against the government, Home Minister and the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) upon being served with the affidavits in reply and because they had already been released. This withdrawal was done without concession or admission of the contents of the affidavits in reply and the allegations made against them. The EO6 will be pursuing further legal action for their wrongful arrest and detention, and they reserved their rights to do so in Court today.
The 6 had been released on 29 July 2011 unconditionally but were then charged on 3 August at the Butterworth Sessions Court for possession of subversive documents under the Section 43 and 48(1) of the Societies Act as well as Section 29(1) of the Internal Security Act together. 24 other PSM members who were also arrested on June 25 in the run-up to the July 9 BERSIH rally had earlier been charged for the same offenses.
The Respondents’ counsel submitted that the detainees were no longer in police custody and therefore the habeas corpus applications to examine their detentions have become academic.
The Applicants’ counsel submitted that the Respondents were to file their affidavits in reply to justify the detention but failed to do so. The Respondents’ counsel informed the Court that they had filed 19 affidavits in reply on 29 July but did not serve them.
Lead counsel for the Applicants, Haji Sulaiman Abdullah Said that after looking at the affidavits, the Applicants maintain that they have done nothing against the law and it was because of unified public pressure that forced the authorities to release the detainees.
Judge and the Judiciary: In Favour of Human Rights Violators?
SUARAM’s observation finds that the learned High Court Judge Justice Su Geok Yiam had been found wanting in upholding the international human right norm to a speedy hearing in this case dealing with the liberty of 6 Malaysians.
On 6 July 2011, the 6 filed a writ of habeas corpus to challenge their detention.
Initially, the High Court scheduled the hearing on 12 August 2011. The solicitors for the EO6 succeeded, despite much resistance from the Respondents, in their request to bring forward the hearing and the Court fixed 22 July 2011.
On the day of the hearing, the Respondents sought an adjournment of the habeas corpus hearing for 3 weeks. After lengthy arguments, the Court agreed to postpone the case to 5 August even as the Applicants’ counsel agreed to withdraw the affidavits filed which needed to be replied to by the Respondents.
SUARAM is of the views that the decision to postpone the hearing on 22 July sets a bad precedent as it in effect continued the purported legitimisation of the EO6’s detention for up to one month. International human rights law clearly requires that on an urgent matter such as a habeas corpus application, the detainee is entitled to a speedy hearing and disposal of the matter.
Abolish the EO, ISA and DDA!
The absence of judicial checks and balances in Malaysia’s preventive detention law has exacerbated police abuse of power. SUARAM reiterates its demand that the Government abolish all preventive detention laws and free all detainees held under the same or to accord them a fair trial. SUARAM stands strongly against any law that provides for detention without trial.