PRESS STATEMENT: 18 MAY 2011 Detention under the EO is Arbitrary!

PRESS STATEMENT: 18 MAY 2011
Detention under the EO is Arbitrary!

Suaram expresses disappointment and concern over the detention of the three youths under the Restricted Residence Act (RRA) 1933 for 2 years. The detention orders under the RRA were issued by the Home Minister on 17 May 2011. This has made the habeas corpus applications that Suaram has planned to file has been made academic. The three individuals are Muhamad Arif bin Abu Samah (19 years old), Mohamed Ramadan bin Muhamed Ali (22 years old) and Mohamed Rafe bin Mohamed Ali (20 years old). Muhamad Arif was send to Mersing, Johor (for 2 years), Mohamed Ramdan to Chenon, Pahang (2 years) and Mohamed Rafe to Kulim, Kedah for 2 years as well.
The three were arrested by the Gombak District police officers on the 8th of March 2011 allegedly for involvement for possession of a stolen vehicle in their residential area in Selayang. But until today these allegations against them have not been proven in any court. On the other hand, the three of them have also been brought on a ‘remand roadshow’ by the police before being pinned under the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Crime Prevention). On 19 March 2011, they were served with detention orders under the EO which allows for detention without trial. The three have been detained for 60 days and they were tortured physically and mentally by the police during the entire duration of their detention. They were severely kicked and beaten with iron pipe, wire and aluminum. Other than that, they were also not allowed to meet with lawyer for nearly two months. Besides that, the family members of Mohamed Ramadan and Mohamed Rafe has also been duped by a man calling himself as an Inspector to extort money of RM 13,000 from them.
SUARAM is appalled at the increasing number of youngsters detained under the EO. SUARAM strongly condemns the Minister’s decision to pursue the detention of the youths under the RRA. Worst still, the detainees will most likely face traumatic experiences and difficulties in their new restricted area. Their rights to move freely, rights to education and more importantly, rights to live a better life with their family have been deprived. This is an outright abuse of power by the Minister who has been blindly signing the detention orders. The gross misuse and abuse of the EO on ordinary citizens of the country does not merely lie with the police but with the slipshod manner of the Home Ministry itself.

As of now, more than 1000 persons were being detained without trial under the EO at Simpang Renggam Detention Centre and other detention centres around the country. This number does not include those detained without trial in other police stations around the country. Going by this number of people detained, the EO can be deemed to be ten times worse than the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) which also allows for arbitrary detention.

SUARAM recognizes the responsibility of the Malaysian government to curb crime and to deal with criminals, gangs and syndicates. But the government should not resort to means that violates human rights such as the EO in efforts to address criminal activity. Unfortunately in Malaysia, EO has been frequently abused by the police and government to deal with suspects of petty crimes. This is an outright misuse of power by the police and the Home Ministry in dealing with the EO detainees, particularly when they have absolute power and their decision cannot be challenged in court. Detention of any individual without trial is a violation of fundamental human rights.

SUARAM urges the government to withdraw the restricted order that have been served to the three detainees that have been mention above and immediately release them without any further conditions.

Detention without trial is a gross human rights violation. It violates Article 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and Article 8 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the Federal Constitution which guarantees due process and security of persons.

Therefore, we call up on the government to:
Immediately repeal the EO, DDA and ISA;
Stop arresting youths and minors under the EO and respect their rights as laid out under CRC;
Stop re-arresting individuals under the same law (or any other preventive laws) especially those released by the courts through habeas corpus applications or through the recommendations of the Advisory Board ; if need be, they should be charged under existing criminal laws;
The police should immediately stop making any further arrests under EO ;
All those who are currently detained or restricted under EO should be released immediately or be charged in open court under existing criminal laws.

Released By,
Nalini.E
Detention without Trial Coordinator,
SUARAM

URGENT MEDIA RELEASE: 29 APRIL 2011 STOP POLICE BRUTALITY: ALLOW LEGAL ACCESS TO MUHAMAD ARIF BIN ABU SEMAH

SUARA RAKYAT MALAYSIA (SUARAM) LAWYERS FOR LIBERTY (LFL)

URGENT MEDIA RELEASE: 29 APRIL 2011

STOP POLICE BRUTALITY:
ALLOW LEGAL ACCESS TO MUHAMAD ARIF BIN ABU SEMAH

SUARAM and Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) was informed by a family member of Muhamad Arif bin Abu Semah, detained under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) since 19 March 2011 that he has been tortured badly under detention.

According to the family members and friends, Muhamad Arif has lost a lot of weight and is currently being denied access to his lawyers at the Rawang police station.

Laywer Edward Saw and Muhamad Arif’s family members went to the Rawang police station to meet him earlier today. When they arrived, the police refused to give Edward access to Muhamad Arif they had not received any instructions from IPD Gombak. Edward tried to negotiate with the police officers, but was unsuccessful. He was told to contact the officers from IPD Gombak.

Muhamad Arif’s family members only managed to spend 3 minutes each with him as the police had only allowed two family members in at a time. During one of these sessions, Fuqran, a family friend, was stopped by a plain clothes police officer, asked his identity card, had his hands restrained and was pulled him out of the room. This act shocked the family members present and the police officer disappeared without apology or explanation.

The continuing descent of the PDRM into lawlessness has been graphically demonstrated by the actions of the plain clothes officer who did not properly identify himself and acted with impunity. SUARAM and LFL condemn the brutal behaviour of the police officer and the silence of his fellow officers who did not stop or restrain him at all. This clearly illustrates the fact that the Malaysian police force is in need of an immediate and true reform.

SUARAM and LFL demands that the Inspector General of Police must:

a) Release Muhamad Arif immediately and issue a public apology to him and his family;
b) Take stern action, including criminal prosecution and disciplinary action against the policemen who assaulted and arrested Muhamad Arif and Fuqran;
c) Support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), to function as an independent, external oversight body to investigate complaints about police personnel and to make the police accountable for their conduct;
d) Stop the unjust practice of arresting and re-arresting under preventive detention laws;
e) undertake to respect the right of the people for unimpeded and free access to lawyers at all times;
f) Require the police especially those in plainclothes to identify themselves and display their authorisation when affecting their powers;
g) Support human rights education and training programmes, with a view of changing the attitudes and methods of law enforcement personnel.

Released by,

Nalini.E
SUARAM

Press Statement: 21 June 2010 Gov’t Must Act Immediately on UN’s Call for the Repeal of Detention-without-Trial Laws and End to Detention of Refugees & Asylum Seekers

The initial findings and recommendations of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) from its country visit to Malaysia from 7 to 18 June 2010 have added to the long list of recommendations and concerns pertaining to the Malaysian government’s legislations, policies and practices of arbitrary detention.

“Classic Cases of Arbitrary Detention” under ISA, EO, DDA, RRA
Among its initial findings of its visit, the WGAD stated that it is “seriously concerned” about the existence and enforcement of laws which provide for detention without trial in Malaysia, namely the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance (EO), the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act (DDA), and the Restricted Residence Act (RRA).

The WGAD stated that these laws “deny the detainee the right to a fair and public hearing” and “severely restrict detainees’ access to legal counsel”.

During the press conference held by the WGAD on 18 June 2010, its Chairperson-Rapporteur El Hadji Malick Sow stated that detentions under the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA are “classic cases of arbitrary detention”. The WGAD also noted with concern that “thousands of people” are being detained under the EO and the DDA.

“Systematic” Detention of Refugees
Also of concern to the WGAD is the detention of refugees and asylum seekers. The WGAD’s Chairperson-Rapporteur described the detention of refugees as “systematic”, noting that even refugees who are in possession of identity cards issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees are not exempted from arrests and detentions.

Malaysia’s non-ratification of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and non-recognition of the status of refugees and asylum seekers have resulted in the detention of many refugees under immigration laws in Malaysia for their alleged “illegal presence” in Malaysian territory. The WGAD noted that detainees who have served prison sentences under immigration laws are often held in immigration detention centres for an indefinite period while awaiting deportation to their countries of origin.

Recommendations Not New, No Reason for Delay in Implementation
While the WGAD’s final report will only be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2011, its initial recommendations are clear enough for the government to make immediate efforts for improvements.

Furthermore,similar recommendations have already been made in the past by other bodies – such as the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police, and various UN member states. As such, there is no justification for the government not to implement the WGAD’s recommendations immediately, especially in view of its status as an elected member of the UN Human Rights Council. Moreover, since it was the Malaysian government that invited the WGAD for this visit, it must also be consistent with such commitment by implementing the recommendations made.

Repeal All Detention-without-Trial Laws
On detention-without-trial laws, the WGAD recommended that the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA be repealed. The WGAD further noted that even if these laws are not repealed, the government must ensure that they are amended to the extent that they are in conformity with Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights spells out the guarantees of the right of every individual to a fair trial.

In other words, even if the government wishes to amend the detention-without-trial laws instead of repealing them, the amendments must ensure that all persons must be accorded a fair trial before being detained. This effectively means that the government must end its practice of detaining
individuals without trial.

Hence, while the government has announced its intention to amend the ISA, the EO, and the DDA, any changes which will merely reduce the periods of detention – including the initial investigative period of detention (currently 60 days) and the subsequent detention order by the Home Ministry (currently 2 years) – would not adequately fulfill the recommendations of the WGAD.

SUARAM thus strongly calls upon the government to immediately re-look into the proposed amendments to all the detention-without-trial laws with additional consideration of the WGAD’s recommendations to do away with the practice of detaining individuals without trial. Ultimately, the ISA, the EO, the DDA, and the RRA must be repealed.

At the same time, the government should immediately end the arrests made under the detention-without-trial laws, and release all individuals who are currently detained under these laws or charge them in a fair and open court.

End Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Other Vulnerable Migrants On the detention of immigrants, the WGAD stated that “detention of immigrants should be decided upon by a court of law, on a case by case basis, and pursuant to clearly and exhaustively defined criteria in legislation”. The WGAD stressed that immigrants should have an effective remedy to challenge the necessity and legality of their detention at any time.

The WGAD also stressed that immigration detention should not be applied to refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable groups of migrants, including unaccompanied minors, families with minor children, pregnant women, breast-feeding mothers, elderly persons, persons with disabilities, or people with serious and/or chronic physical or mental health problems.

The Malaysian government has also been urged by the WGAD to ratify the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a recommendation which has already been made on numerous occasions by SUHAKAM as well as UN member states during the Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia in February 2009.

SUARAM strongly urges the government to immediately implement these recommendations, especially in refraining from the arrests of refugees, asylum seekers and other vulnerable groups of migrants. The government should also immediately provide a concrete timeframe for the ratification of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Invite UN Experts in Other Areas Too
Lastly, while the WGAD expressed its gratitude towards the Malaysian government for its invitation which made the visit possible, and while being fully aware of the fact that the visit of the WGAD as well as other Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council cannot be made without the host government’s invitation, SUARAM wishes to point out that the WGAD had in fact made a request for a country visit to Malaysia way back in 2008. It was only in early 2010 that the Malaysian government officially and publicly confirmed its acceptance of the WGAD’s request to visit Malaysia.

To date, the Malaysian government still has not responded to eight pending requests by other
Special Procedures Mandate Holders, namely the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders (request made in 2002); the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples (2005); the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion (2006); the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2006); the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism (2005); the Independent Expert on Minority Issues (2007 and 2009); the Special Rapporteur on Racism (2008); and Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers (2009).

SUARAM therefore calls upon the Malaysian government to extend standing invitations to all Special Procedures Mandate Holders of the UN Human Rights Council, with particular urgency in responding to the eight mandate holders which have made requests for country visits to Malaysia.

Released by,
John Liu
Coordinator

Detained without Trial for Fighting: Draconian EO Must Be Abolished

SUARAM strongly condemns the detention of the Vikneswaran Venugopal under Section 3 (i) of the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Crime Prevention) since 11 June 2010 for alleged involvement in a fight.

SUARAM deeply regrets that Vikneswaran, the latest of the countless number of victims of detention-without-trial laws in Malaysia, has not been given access to lawyers and his family since the day he was detained under the EO. SUARAM strongly and urgently calls upon the government to immediately provide the detainee with access to legal counsel and his family immediately.

Release Vikneswaran or Charge Him!

SUARAM strongly urges the police to charge the detainee immediately or release him unconditionally. The detainee must be accorded his right to an open trial with legal representation.

While SUARAM recognises the responsibility of the Malaysian government to curb crime and to deal with criminals, gangs and syndicates, there is no justification whatsoever for the government to resort to detaining suspects without trial in its efforts to address criminal activities, or any crime for that matter. SUARAM stresses that there are ample laws in Malaysia which could adequately deal with the various crimes and offences for which the government currently detains individuals without trial.

SUARAM reiterates that the detention of any individual without trial is a gross violation of fundamental human rights under Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 and the Federal Constitution, which guarantee due process and security of persons.

Amendments and UN Visit: Malaysia’s Failed Public Relations Exercise

While the government has announced its plans to amend the three detention-without-trial laws in the country, the detention of Vikneswaran among the many recent detentions under the EO demonstrates that the government has no intention to make any progress towards complying with universally-accepted human rights standards of the right to fair trial.

SUARAM further notes that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is currently visiting Malaysia to study the situation of arbitrary detentions in the country. As such, SUARAM calls upon the Working Group to take note of the latest arrest.
That such an arbitrary detention was made even during the visit of the Working Group to Malaysia – a time when the Malaysian government is likely to seek to improve its reputation over such detentions in the eyes of international observers – only goes to show that the rampant use of the EO by the Malaysian government cannot be hidden.

Thus, the Malaysian government’s proposed amendments to the three detention-without-trial laws and its acceptance of the visit of the Working Group, seemingly aimed at improving its image of human rights compliance, are turning out to be a futile exercise as this latest EO detention clearly demonstrates the government’s unchanged position on detention without trial.

End Detention without Trial Now!

SUARAM wishes to reiterate its position that all detention-without-trial laws – the EO, the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act (DDA) and the Internal Security Act (ISA) – must be repealed. In the same vein, SUARAM strongly urges the government to release all who are currently being detained under any of the three detention-without-trial laws, or charge them in a fair and open court of law.

Released by,
Nalini.E
SUARAM Coordinator