Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) welcomes the announcement by Tun Mahathir Mohamad regarding the administration’s plans to abolish the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).
Since its inception, SOSMA has been used extensively by the Royal Malaysian Police with more than 1,600 detentions since July 2012. Despite assurances by the former administration, the denial of the right to fair trial and torture in detention remains prevalent with SUARAM’s documenting countless case of brutal torture akin to those faced by detainees under the Internal Security Act 1960.
The subversion of the right to fair trial cannot be condoned and accepted in any country which practices the rule of law. The Criminal Procedure Code and the remand proceeding within it was designed with the intent to ensure judicial supervision over the discharge of police powers should be the baseline for any pre-trial detention and investigation. The power of remand and pre-trial detention can only be the power afforded to the judicial system and not the Royal Malaysian Police.
Furthermore, SUARAM would like to highlight that as a procedural law working in lieu of the Criminal Procedure Code, the Royal Malaysian Police themselves has shown that SOSMA is not necessary as claimed to be. Throughout the 6 years of operation, there are countless cases of offences under Chapter VI and VII of the Penal Code and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ATIPSOM) that were completed through the provisions found in the Criminal Procedure Code.
With this in mind, the use of SOSMA can only be described as arbitrary and utilized to enable a period of detention with no communication with the outside world for selected police officer to extract a confession by detainee under duress and the undermine the rule of law.
SUARAM urges the government to implement a moratorium on the use of SOSMA pending its repeal and call for all juvenile detainees under SOSMA, Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA) and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 to be released immediately with necessary rehabilitation programmes implemented to support those released. The welfare and future of 159 minors who were reported to be detained under SOSMA and POCA must be given priority.
Furthermore, SUARAM also urge the government to review and suspend the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA) which perpetuates the same abuses and human rights violations.