Press statement: 18 April 2012
Pass of the Security Offences Bill (Special Measures) 2012, will cause more travesty of justice and violations of the rights of Malaysian citizens for years to come.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) and Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) condemn the move by the government to pass the Security Offences Bill 2012 at the parliament yesterday.
Despite the lack of public consultation and after numerous protests and criticisms from the Malaysian and international community towards the multitudes of human rights violations prescribed in the Malaysian laws, for example allowing arbitrary powers to the police to arrest and detain a person without warrant, the Parliament has passed a bill that is not only ignorant to all the aforementioned criticisms, but fails to uphold international human rights standards.
The bill was passed despite complaints and concerns raised by the Malaysian and international community, in particular human rights activists as well as many governmental and non-governmental organizations such as the Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), FORUM ASIA and Opposition Parliamentarians. Those ratifying the Bill have made no attempts to reform the following concerns:
1. The broad and vague interpretation of “security offences”. The phrase “prejudicial to public order” is a vague term that is open for abuse.
2. Broad powers to Police
· Clause 4 of the new bill which allows detention for 28 days without being brought before a judge violates the fundamental rights of any individuals. The absence of judicial scrutiny means that the authorities can use the law to detain anyone opposed to them under the pretext of active investigation as the proposed law allows for arrest on basis of a subjective standard of “has reason to believe” that the person may be involved in security offences.
· We strongly oppose the powers given to the police to detain a person for 28 days without charge and urge for amendment to include the role of the judiciary in providing such order. We are also of the position that the law must allow for habeas corpus application for any person who seek to challenge the initial detention order.
3. Infringement of personal liberty and privacy
We also oppose the provision that permits the use of electronic monitoring device even if one has been released as it is against the freedom of movement and privacy rights of citizens and the principle of a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.
4. Legal access
We have strong concerns on Clause 5 of the bill which allows the police to suspend access to lawyers until not later than 48 hours. This is open to abuse and the possibility of confession under duress and also encourages abusive interrogations and torture.
5. Bail is not allowed for those who are prosecuted under the new law (except for three groups of detainees) and the court authorized to order the continued detention of the detainees until all prosecution appeal procedure is completed. This allows the authorities to detain a suspect that have not been found guilty for many years (this provision is similar like the ISA which allows indefinite detention).
6. The existence of the new Act and the repeal of the ISA do not mean the release of current ISA detainees. The new Act says in Section 32 (2) that the repeal of the ISA shall not affect any detention order issued or made, action or proceeding taken under the ISA prior to the date of coming into operation of the new Act, unless earlier revoked by the Minister. The Minister of Home Affairs has stated that the current ISA detainees may be tried in court. We welcome the move but we hope the government will have sufficient evidence to prosecute or charge them. Otherwise, the detainees should be released immediately without any conditions.
7. SUARAM and GMI would like to remind that for the time being, the ISA has not been repealed and is subject to the gazette of the new legislation, Security Offences Act 2012.
We once again call upon the government to:
1. Withdraw and cancel the bill immediately
2. To establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as per the recommendations made by the 2005 Royal Commission on Policing without further delay.
3. All persons currently detained under the ISA to be released immediately and unconditionally and be provided reparations equivalent to the torture and sufferings that was experienced by the detainees and family members;
4. Establish a Truth Commission to review all past ISA arrests with a view to bring perpetrators of torture and ill-treatment as well as other human rights violations committed against former detainees to justice in proceedings that meet international fair trial standards;
5. Abolish all other detention without trial laws such as the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA)
6. Take the necessary steps to sign and ratify without delay, and thereafter effectively implement the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment as well as the Optional Protocol to this Convention and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Nalini Elumalai Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh
Executive Director of SUARAM GMI Chairman