PRESS STATEMENT: 2 SEPTEMBER 2010
Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) welcomed the release of Shamsudin Bin Sulaiman, who has been the longest detained Internal Security Act (ISA) detainee since 17 April 2002. He was alleged to be a Jemaah Islamiah (JI) member but till now has not been charge in any open court.
SUARAM and GMI find that the release of Shamsudin Sulaiman as only partial because he is still being restricted to move and will be under police observation. Although we welcome the release but we condemn the government for being selective in the release of the detainees. We demand the government to release all the ISA detainees who has been detained without trial.
Shamsuddin Sulaiman was arrested on the 17th April 2002 and was the longest serving detainee under the ISA. He was sent to the Police Remand Centre (PRC) at Kampung Batu, and was kept there for 56 days. On 13 June 2002, he was transferred to the Kamunting Detention Centre in the state of Perak. Shamsuddin was an Assistant Accountant at the Health Ministry before he was detained under the ISA. He was arrested because he was ‘perceived to be a threat’ to the country. Initially, he was accused of being a member of Kumpulan Militan Malaysia (KMM), a militant group. Thereafter, the Malaysian authorities dropped this charge against him and accused him of being a member of JI, another militant group. He has been held in solitary confinement for eight years, without charge or trial.
The Home Minister said that Shamsudin Sulaiman was not a threat anymore and there was a recommendation for him to be released.
GMI and SUARAM view this development as another ugly episode of the arbitrary nature of the ISA. Neither clear explanation nor details were given to the nature of the threat or national security risks. In fact under the ISA, the Home Minister has no obligation to disclose to the public or the courts the details of the detention or release. He has absolute power to detain a person without trial or proof, bypassing any judicial process as well as to extent the detention arbitrarily. This is a clear violation of rule of the law.
Detention without trial
The biggest argument against the ISA is the fact that it constitutes “detention without trial” which goes against the basic tenets of human rights. Since its inception, more than ten thousand people have been arrested under the ISA. Currently, there are 18 people still detained under the ISA. Under the ISA, a person is detained without trial or being charged. This means the person is not given an opportunity to be heard in court but is kept behind bars although he has not been found guilty of any offence.
No Amendments, Abolish ISA and the other repressive law!
GMI and SUARAM calls on the Government to respect the people’s demand to Abolish the ISA and other repressive laws that allows for detention without trial such as the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Crime Prevention) 1969 (EO) and Dangerous Drugs Act Special Preventive Measures 1985 (DDA). The idea of amending these laws is unnecessary as long as it contains elements of detention without trial. All laws providing for detention without trial should go immediately. We therefore demand the government to abolish the ISA, EO and DDA immediately. We urge the government to pay damages to all the ISA, EO and DDA detainees who have been detained unlawfully under these acts and to resume their life that they have lost for so many years.
GMI Secretariat and SUARAM Coordinator