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

Resume water supply at Lenggeng Immigration Detention Centre

(Press Statement: 14 June 2010 )

SUARAM has been informed that detainees at Lenggeng Immigration Detention Centre have been on a hunger strike since evening of Saturday, 12 June, as a protest against the lack of water supply in the detention centre. The hunger strike started when immigration officers denied the detainees drinking water when asked by the detainees. There has been no water supply at the detention centre for the past 5 days.

According to our source, there are an estimated 1,500 detainees at Lenggeng Immigration Detention Centre. The estimated 500 Burmese asylum seekers in the detention centre will continue the hunger strike until they are given access to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

SUARAM has previously expressed our deep concern with regards to the deplorable conditions of Immigration Detention Centres. This is not the first time that we have received complaints that water supply to detention centres is irregular and inadequate. Denying the detainees access to drinking water is an outrageous violation of a basic human right. Even persons in detention have fundamental right to adequate standard of living, which includes adequate and constant supply of water for consumption and maintenance of personal hygiene, as enshrined in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Detainees at immigration detention centres often fall ill due to the poor conditions that often cause malnourishment and poor immune system amongst detainees. The non-supply of water, coupled with the deplorable conditions of the detention centres could potentially cause the increase the risk of illnesses amongst the individuals.

SUARAM demands that the Government immediately restores water supply to Lenggeng Immigration Detention Centre and to ensure that water supply to all detention centres are regular, adequate and clean. The Government must ensure that conditions in all detention centres comply with minimum international standards for places of detention.

SUARAM urges the Immigration Department to immediately provide the asylum seekers access to UNHCR and to allow the UNHCR to process their asylum claims. Upon verification of their asylum claims, the Government must immediately release the asylum seekers in to UNHCR’s official care.

Released by,
Temme Lee
Coordinator
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Kendalikan Inkues terhadap semua kes Kematian dalam Tahanan dengan Segera!

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) mengutuk tindakan  Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) atas satu lagi kes kematian dalam tahanan iaitu saudara P.Babu yang berumur 28 tahun dalam lokap Ibupejabat Polis Daerah Jempol, Negeri Sembilan.

Mengikut keterangan saudara kepada mangsa, M. Mahadevan, 35,P.Babu dijangka telah terlibat  dalam beberapa kes samun pada 26 Januari 2010 di kawasan Ladang Bahau. Selepas dicari oleh pihak polis, maka  mangsa bersama dengan rakannya telah menyerah diri kepada polis pada 28 januari 2010 untuk membantu Polis dalam siasatan.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) mengutuk tindakan  Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) atas satu lagi kes kematian dalam tahanan iaitu saudara P.Babu yang berumur 28 tahun dalam lokap Ibupejabat Polis Daerah Jempol, Negeri Sembilan.

Mengikut keterangan saudara kepada mangsa, M. Mahadevan, 35,P.Babu dijangka telah terlibat  dalam beberapa kes samun pada 26 Januari 2010 di kawasan Ladang Bahau. Selepas dicari oleh pihak polis, maka  mangsa bersama dengan rakannya telah menyerah diri kepada polis pada 28 januari 2010 untuk membantu Polis dalam siasatan.

Namun demikian, P babu didapati telah mati dalam lokap pada 1hb Februari 2010 atas alsasan beliau membunuh diri di lokap dengan menggunakan baju lokap yang dipakai oleh mangsa. Malah, mengikut keluarga mangsa, pihak polis hanya memberitahu kematian mangsa P. Babu hanya selepas proses bedah siasat habis dijalankan. Suaram mempunyai beberapa soalan dalam perkara ini. Dimanakah pegawai polis yang bertugas berada ketika mangsa bunuh diri? Mengapakah pihak polis mengambil tempoh masa yang begitu lama untuk memaklumkan kepada pihak keluarga mangsa? Apakah  hasil daripada bedah siasat yang dijalankan?

Maka, SUARAM amat meragui punca kes kematian P.Babu yang dikatakan membunuh diri dan sekaligus tidak dapat menerima alasan pihak polis yang menyatakan bahawa CCTV di lokap tersebut telah rosak pada hari kejadian .  SUARAM  mengesa kerajaan menjalankan  inkues serta membenarkan  bedah siasat untuk  kali kedua bagi mengetahui punca  kematian P.Babu. Pihak polis perlu bertanggungjawab terhadap segala kes kematian dalam tahanan kerana adalah tanggugjawab polis untuk menjaga OKT(orang kena tahan) dalam keadaan sihat seperti yang dinyatakan dalam Akta Kaedah-Kaedah Lokap(L.N.3289/1958)(4).

Kes kematian dalam tahanan ini adalah bukan yang pertama. Malah, sehingga kini satu penyiasatan yang menyeluruh dan terperinci tidak pernah dijalankan terhadap mana-mana kes kematian dalam tahanan polis  yang dilaporkan. SUARAM berpandangan kes kematian dalan tahanan polis adalah satu isu yang amat berat dan menyalahi undang-undang Hak Asasi Antarabangsa.

Maka dengan ini SUARAM  menyeru agar kerajaan:

1. Segera melaksanakan  IPCMC iaitu  Suruhanjaya Bebas Salahlaku dan Aduan Polis yang dicadangkan oleh Suruhanjaya Diraja Penambahbaikan Perjalanan dan Pengurusan Polis Diraja Malaysia yang bersifat bebas serta telus dan adil

2. Wujudkan Mahkamah koroner yang bebas untuk meyiasat segala kes kematian dalam tahanan dan inkues yang terbuka perlu dijalankan dengan serta merta bagi setiap kes kematian dalam tahanan.

3. Membawa semua pihak yang terlibat dan bertanggungjawab dalam kes Kematian tahanan sebelum ini dan termasuk P. Babu untuk dibawa ke muka pengadilan dengan segera.
Yang bertugas,
Lucas Yap Heng Lung
Penyelaras SUARAM

The Anwar Ibrahim Trial: A Discredited Government’s Attempts to Persecute Opponent with Archaic Sodomy Laws

While the trial of Anwar Ibrahim on the charge of sodomy has drawn international concerns about whether he will be given a fair trial, the government-controlled media has today begun their “trial by media” in the same way they did over Sodomy trial #1. They have given headline prominence to the accuser’s allegations in an attempt to besmirch Anwar’s reputation and integrity.

While the trial of Anwar Ibrahim on the charge of sodomy has drawn international concerns about whether he will be given a fair trial, the government-controlled media has today begun their “trial by media” in the same way they did over Sodomy trial #1. They have given headline prominence to the accuser’s allegations in an attempt to besmirch Anwar’s reputation and integrity.

In a repeat of the trial of Anwar 12 years ago on charges of corruption and sodomy, the latest trial bears the characteristic political persecution of the leader of the Opposition who has since the general elections of 2008, posed the biggest challenge to the ruling regime since Independence.

The way the trial has progressed clearly shows that Anwar has been denied a fair trial. Even before the trial began, the prosecution has refused to deliver evidence to the defence which is fundamental to ensuring a fair trial. Consequently, SUARAM does not believe that the current trial of Anwar will be in any manner fair and just.

The focus of the government-controlled media in playing up the testimony of Mohd Saiful at the High Court yesterday is clearly an attempt to discredit and cast doubts in the minds of the public over the morals of the former deputy prime minister.

While issues surrounding the question of a fair trial have drawn national and international concerns, another serious human rights violation surrounding the criminal charge on Anwar is the use of the archaic sodomy law of the country against him. All over the world, including countries in Asia, antiquated laws on sodomy are being abolished. On 2 July 2009, the Delhi High Court delivered a historic judgement to amend a 149-year-old colonial-era law and forthwith decriminalised private consensual sex between adults of the same sex. India became the 127th country to decriminalise homosexuality.

It is a shame that a country like Malaysia, which has in the past chaired the UN Commission on Human Rights and has been a recent member of the UN Human Rights Council, not only continues to maintain such archaic laws criminalising homosexuality but also uses it in a politically-motivated trial to discredit and neutralise a political challenger. The Barisan Nasional government’s continued pursuance of the political trial of Anwar Ibrahim and the farcical manner in which the trial progresses will doubtless discredit Malaysia in the eyes of the international community.

SUARAM strongly urges the government to drop its charges on Anwar and further calls for the abolition of our outdated sodomy laws. SUARAM further calls on the Malaysian media to be responsible in reporting the trial and not make this a parallel “trial by media”.

Released by,

John Liu

ID cards for refugees: A step in the right direction

SUARAM welcomes the announcement by the Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam on the Government’s plans to issue identification cards to refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We view this as a positive development towards the recognition of the right to seek asylum as enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

SUARAM welcomes the announcement by the Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam on the Government’s plans to issue identification cards to refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We view this as a positive development towards the recognition of the right to seek asylum as enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

However, SUARAM notes with disappointment that Mahmood Adam stated that the refugees “cannot work here, but they can do odd jobs” . Government must also allow refugees access to full-time work and earn a living while they remain in the country. The more than 75,000 refugees and asylum seekers currently registered with UNHCR is an existing source of labour. Instead of importing more migrant workers, the Government should first exhaust existing sources of labour in the country.

With regards to the planned crackdown on undocumented migrants scheduled to be carried out on 15 February, the Government must take precautions to prevent arrests of refugees and asylum seekers carrying UNHCR documents. In addition, the Government must make concerted efforts to identify the root causes for the large population of undocumented migrants in Malaysia which include labour trafficking and poorly formed policies that causes migrant workers to become undocumented. Crackdowns are in reality a flash in the pan, big efforts that fail solve a problem. What is needed in Malaysia is reform of immigration policies.

Malaysia has long been criticised for its poor treatment towards refugees and asylum seekers. On a daily basis, refugees and asylum seekers are arrested, sentenced for immigration offences, whipped and detained indefinitely. SUARAM hopes that with this current effort to issue identification cards for refugees, the Government is changing its treatment towards refugees and asylum seekers and that more changes towards respecting the rights of refugees will be made.

Lastly, SUARAM calls upon the Government to ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Released by,

Temme Lee
Coordinator