PRESS RELEASE-MALAYSIA: 50 Draconian Years under the Internal Security Act (ISA) – Repeal All Detention-without-Trial Laws Now!

 SUARAM - OMCT - FIDH (Under embargo until Sunday 1st August 2010 0h01 Kuala Lumpur time)  PRESS RELEASE MALAYSIA: 50 Draconian Years under the Internal Security Act (ISA) – Repeal All Detention-without-Trial Laws Now! Kuala Lumpur – Geneva - Paris, 1st August 2010. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the Internal Security Act (ISA), the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and their member organisation in Malaysia, Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), jointly reiterate their call on the Government of Malaysia to take all necessary measures to repeal this law and release all individuals still detained under the ISA.  
Since its enactment in 1960, succeeding emergency laws aimed at combating the communist insurgency during the 1940s and 1950s, the ISA has facilitated serious human rights abuses, including torture and ill-treatment, and has therefore been repeatedly denounced, including by local human rights groups in Malaysia and again recently, in June, by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention during its mission to Malaysia[1].  The ISA, which allows for arrest without warrant and detention without trial for a term of two years renewable indefinitely in clear violation ofinternationally recognised human rights standards relating to fair trials, has been invoked against those who commit acts deemed to be “prejudicial to the security of Malaysia”, or threatening to the “maintenance of essential services” or “economic life”. These vaguely defined security notions have led to the frequent use of the law against citizens peacefully expressing their religious and political beliefs, as well as a number of human rights defenders. In 2009, the authorities made some welcoming moves, including the release of 40 ISA detainees from Kamunting detention camp (of which at least five were human rights defenders[2]) and the announcement that the law will be amended based on feedback obtained from various stakeholders. However, at the same time, new arrests under the ISA have been documented by SUARAM. 16 individuals are currently detained under the ISA in Malaysia – among which 14 were detained after the Government had announced its review of the legislation. Furthermore, no major local human rights groups, including the Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) Movement[3] and SUARAM, have been properly consulted in the amendments process despite the fact that these groups have been active on the issue for many years. These contradictory signs seem to indicate the Government’s lack of sincerity in reviewing the ISA and its intention to retain the archaic and draconian legislation. On the occasion of the anniversary of the draconian ISA, OMCT, FIDH and SUARAM also express gravest concerns over other existing emergency and anti-subversion laws which also provide for indefinite detention without trial, namely the Emergency Ordinance 1969 (EO) and the Dangerous Drugs Act 1985 (DDA). As of February 2010, 819 individuals were detained without trial under the EO, while 412 were incarcerated under the DDA – giving a total of more than 1,200 individuals detained without trial in Malaysia. OMCT, FIDH and SUARAM thus strongly reiterate their call to the Government of Malaysia to take the necessary steps to repeal the ISA and all other detention-without-trial laws in order to respect fundamental rights and freedoms.  
While the Government has announced that the ISA would be amended, OMCT, FIDH and SUARAM strongly note their position that all detention-without-trial laws must be repealed and not amended, even more as they deal with the various offences covered by other existing legislations which are more in line with international human rights standards as compared to the draconian ISA, EO and DDA. OMCT, FIDH and SUARAM further urge the Government to immediately release all remaining individuals detained under the ISA and other detention-without-trial laws in the absence of valid legal charges and judicial process consistent with international legal standards, orif such charges exist, bring them before an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times.  Finally, OMCT, FIDH and SUARAM call upon the Government and the police force to uphold their commitment to put an immediate end to the continued crackdown on the Malaysian civil society, notably in line with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. Noting the harsh crackdown on the anti-ISA rally which was held exactly one year ago (which saw 589 persons, including juveniles, arrested by the police), our organisations strongly call upon the Malaysian Government to authorise the candlelight vigils that will be held against the ISA, on 1st August 2010, in several cities and towns nationwide and condemn any form of repression of the upcoming peaceful protests. The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) must also play its role in monitoring any possible violations during the candlelight vigils on 1st August 2010 – a task which the Commission had failed to fulfil despite several requests to do so during harsh crackdown on the 2009 anti-ISA rally.  Contact: SUARAM: Nalini. E, Tel. + 6 03 7784 3525, Email: suaram (at)suaram(dot)netOMCT: Alexandra Kossin, Tel. +41 22 809 49 39, Email: omct(at)omct(dot)org  FIDH: Fabien Maitre, Tel. + 33 1 43 55 90 19

Press release: 21 July 2010

Press release: 21 July 2010

SUARAM’s 2009 Human Rights Report:
Najib’s First Year as PM Tarnished by Culture of Impunity, Heightened Intolerance, and Resistance to Change

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) released its “Malaysia Human Rights Report 2009:
Civil and Political Rights” in Kuala Lumpurtoday, 21 July 2010.

SUARAM’s report highlights several key trends in human rights in 2009, including: (1) the increasingly serious and repeated cases of abuses of power by the police and law enforcement agencies with impunity; (2) the heightened intolerance towards dissent; and (3) the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s resistance towards reform and greater compliance with human rights standards.

1. Increasingly Serious and Repeated Abuses of Power by Law Enforcement Agencies At its launch, SUARAM noted the serious and repeated abuses of power – not only by the police, but now increasingly rampant in other law enforcement agencies, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

SUARAM also noted that there were at least two international reports published in 2009, exposing the collusion of Immigration Department authorities in the trafficking of refugees to the Malaysia-Thailand border.

8 Deaths in Custody in 2009
In 2009, there were 7 deaths in police custody, according to official statistics. Another death occurred in the custody of the MACC on 16 July 2009, when Teoh Beng Hock, an aide of a politician from the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), fell from the 14th floor of the MACC building when he was there for questioning by the Commission.

While deaths in police custody have been a major problem in previous years, this was the first time that a death occurred in the MACC’s custody. Still, the MACC has also had a tarnished record in the past. In 2007, SUARAM documented the case of a man who died three weeks after being brutally assaulted during an interrogation by officers of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), as the anti-corruption body was then known.

The recent case of alleged torture of former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officer Tharmendran by military intelligence officers in connection to the theft of two jet engines is a manifestation of the systemic problem of torture, abuse of power and culture of impunity in the country. Tharmendran claimed that he was
hit with a golf stick, forced to strip and stand on a block of ice to an hour at a time, and threatened with death.

The fact that Malaysia has to date refused to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) despite being repeatedly urged to do so only goes to show that the government accepts torture as a form of punishment in this country!

88 People Shot Dead by the Police in 2009
Equally as worrying are the cases of deaths caused by police shooting, which have occurred rampantly with impunity. 88 people were shot dead by the police in 2009, with not a single police officer known to be held accountable for any of those deaths. The high number of deaths caused by police shootings in 2009 is
indeed alarming, considering that there were only 13 such cases, according to official sources, in 2007.

These cases continue to occur at an alarming rate in 2010, including in the case of 15-year-old Aminulrasyid who was shot dead by the police on 26 April 2010when he was in a car in Shah Alam, Selangor. As recent as 5 July 2010, another case was reported, where four suspected robbers were shot dead by the police at the
residence of an executive councilor of the state of Pahang.

2. Heightened Intolerance towards Dissent
In 2009, there were mass arrests of participants of public peaceful assemblies in numbers which significantly exceeded those in previous years, signalling the government’s increasing intolerance of dissent. Close to a thousand people were arrested by the police for various acts of peaceful protest, including by holding candlelight vigils, wearing black and even participating in a hunger strike!

Close to a Thousand Arrested during Peaceful Assemblies in 2009 In May alone, 167 people were arrested in relation to protests against the unconstitutional takeover by the BN of the Perak state government. On 1 August 2009, 589 people, including minors, were arrested during the massive anti-ISA rally in Kuala Lumpur– possibly the greatest number of persons arrested in a single public assembly in recent years.

Opposition and Critics of the Government Targeted for Harassment
Opposition politicians, critics of the government and media (both of the opposition and independent ones) have also been attacked and harassed, using repressive laws such as the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act throughout 2009 despite the initial show of commitment towards free speech by Najib Razak when he announced the lifting of the ban on opposition mouthpieces Suara Keadilan and Harakah on the very first day of his premiership.

Freedom of speech and expression, especially that of opposition politicians and critics of the government, has become one of the most seriously and frequently violated human right in Malaysia, and this trend has continued in 2010. Mouthpieces of the opposition political parties – Suara Keadilan, Harakah, and Rocket – were all given show-cause letters in the month of July in 2010.

3. BN Government’s Resistance to Change, More than a Thousand Still Detained
without Trial
Despite the continued momentum of demands for change and better compliance with human rights principles, the BN government has continued to resist change. Despite growing calls for the ISA to be abolished, for example, the government has continued to detain people without trial throughout the year.

At the end of the year, there were nine ISA detainees still incarcerated without being tried in the courts, while more than a thousand people were still being held under the two other detention-without-trial laws, the Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Even recommendations made by commissions set up by the government, for example the Royal Commission on the Police and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), have mostly failed to be implemented by the government to date.

Malaysia’s human rights record was reviewed by the international community under the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. During this review, the Malaysian government received numerous recommendations from United Nations member states to improve its human rights record, including by abolishing all detention-without-trial laws, respect freedom of expression, and recognise the status and rights of refugees. However, most of the more substantial of these recommendations were not accepted by the Malaysian government.

This reluctance to heed the international community’s calls, nevertheless, did not stop Malaysia from seeking election into the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010.

4. Increasing Human Rights Awareness: Biggest Anti-ISA Demonstration Yet
Despite the increase in human rights violations in 2009, SUARAM nevertheless noted the rise in human rights awareness in the country. This was perhaps most evident in the biggest ever anti-ISA demonstration held in Kuala Lumpur on 1August 2009, which was attended by more than 30,000 people. Encouraged by the
groundswell of popular calls for change, SUARAM stressed that it will continue to work towards keeping up this momentum with the aim of improving the situation of human rights in the country.

5. SUARAM’s Report Launch Gives Voice to Victims of Detention without Trial
Continuing its tradition of giving voice to victims of human rights violations, SUARAM invited Mat Sah Satray (former ISA detainee, 2002-2010) and the parents of Jagendran Panir Selvam (a minor who was detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance from January to March 2010, and is currently held under
restricted residence) as guest speakers at the launch of its report.

6. Demands Reiterated
Based on the testimonies of violations provided by Mat Sah and the parents of Jagendran, as well as documentation of numerous cases in previous years, SUARAM strongly urged the government to repeal all detention-without-trial laws, pointing out that these legislations severely violate fundamental human rights.
SUARAM also reiterated several other longstanding demands to the government including:

1. The immediate setting up an independent and effective oversight monitoring body to ensure accountability in the police force and other law enforcement agencies;
2. The repeal of repressive legislations and/or provisions in laws which undermine freedom of speech, expression and assembly, namely the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act, and Section 27 of the Police Act;
3. The recognition of the status and rights of refugees and asylum seekers;
4. The ratification of all remaining core international human rights treaties, noting that Malaysia has only ratified two of the nine core treaties – and even so, with reservations; and
5. The strengthening of SUHAKAM’s independence and effectiveness, and the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.

In response to the increasingly serious human rights abuses and the heightened intolerance towards dissent and opposition as witnessed in 2009 and 2010, SUARAM noted that it will also heighten its role as a watchdog of the BN federal government as well as both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat state governments, and further warned that failure to heed the increasingly popular calls for human rights compliance would result in the unpopularity and eventual downfall of any government in power.

FREE WATER IS POPULIST AND IRRESPONSIBLE

By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 13 July 2010
The current spat between BN and PR leaders regarding the budgetary “possibility” of providing free water to consumers is missing the point raised by environmentalists when we were opposing the Sungai Selangor dam.
It’s Water Demand Management Stupid!
Certainly, a precious social utility such as water should belong to the people and not to private interests. Water is a public good and it is the people’s right to have access to clean water and to ensure that the sources of clean water are properly protected.
The Sungai Selangor dam has not only destroyed irrevocably a region of pristine natural environment in Kuala Kubu Baru but has destroyed the ancestral homes of the Orang Asli who lived there. Selangor rate payers are now paying the price of the dam.
During our campaign against the dam, we stressed the urgent need to focus on water demand management. Water demand management includes targets set for per capita water use, and reductions in non-revenue water.
Giving away free water makes a mockery of water demand management. In fact, water demand management would involve making sure those who wash their precious cars everyday pay MORE for the luxury.
That may not be populist but it is what we expect of a responsible government that protects our resources and does not tell us that we need to pay for yet another dam because the current reservoirs are inadequate.
When Malaysians start collecting our plentiful rain water for their gardening and cleaning needs, only then will we be on our way to becoming an  environmentally conscious people and to have a sustainable lifestyle. Malaysia is blessed to be among the countries in the world with abundant rain water yet we are also the worst squanderers of this natural resource.
A comprehensive water policy would include changes to building by-laws, through subsidising the installation of water saving devices in business and residential properties and through giving industry incentives to switch to water-efficient technologies.
 
Selangor Rate Payers Expect Excellence
As the richest state in Malaysia, Selangor rate payers expect the best quality of life and the best standard of governance to go with it. The current debates about whether the state is going bankrupt do not humour us. The Deputy Prime Minister may have his own agenda but the PKR’s own leader, Azmin Ali’s warning to the State Government at the state assembly yesterday that it’s spendthrift ways have to stop does not speak well of sustainable governance in the state. He mentioned an instance of the state government spending RM500,000 on a single official ceremony and that the state reserves have dipped below RM800 million. I still remember the PR Speaker telling off the State Exco Ronnie Liu for spending RM10,000 on durian feasts for his constituents.

Who knows what else goes on…Is this corruption, or do free handouts count as corruption only when they are given out close to an election?

FREE WATER IS POPULIST AND IRRESPONSIBLE

By Dr Kua Kia Soong, Director of SUARAM, 13 July 2010

The current spat between BN and PR leaders regarding the budgetary “possibility” of providing free water to consumers is missing the point raised by environmentalists when we were opposing the Sungai Selangor dam.

It’s Water Demand Management Stupid!

Certainly, a precious social utility such as water should belong to the people and not to private interests. Water is a public good and it is the people’s right to have access to clean water and to ensure that the sources of clean water are properly protected.

The Sungai Selangor dam has not only destroyed irrevocably a region of pristine natural environment in Kuala Kubu Baru but has destroyed the ancestral homes of the Orang Asli who lived there. Selangor rate payers are now paying the price of the dam.

During our campaign against the dam, we stressed the urgent need to focus on water demand management. Water demand management includes targets set for per capita water use, and reductions in non-revenue water.

Selangor Rate Payers Expect Excellence

As the richest state in Malaysia, Selangor rate payers expect the best quality of life and the best standard of governance to go with it. The current debates about whether the state is going bankrupt do not humour us. The Deputy Prime Minister may have his own agenda but the PKR’s own leader, Azmin Ali’s warning to the State Government at the state assembly yesterday that it’s spendthrift ways have to stop does not speak well of sustainable governance in the state. He mentioned an instance of the state government spending RM500,000 on a single official ceremony and that the state reserves have dipped below RM800 million. I still remember the PR Speaker telling off the State Exco Ronnie Liu for spending RM10,000 on durian feasts for his constituents.

Who knows what else goes on…Is this corruption, or do free handouts count as corruption only when they are given out close to an election?

Jemputan menghadiri kes perbicaraan inkues R.Gunasegaran

Kes R.Gunasegaran merupakan salah satu kes kematian dalam tahanan yang amat memerlukan pemerhatian daripada semua pihak masyarakat.

Pihak SUARAM ingin menjemput semua pihak untuk menghadiri perbicaraan inkues tersebut dan memberikan sokongan kepada ahli keluarga R.Gunasegaran yang berani berdepan untuk memperjuangkan keadilan dan hak asasi manusia daripada penindasan oleh pihak polis.

kami berharap kes ini mendapat liputan yang luas supaya mendapat perhatian daripada rakyat dan memberi tekanan kepada kerajaan untuk menubuhkan IPCMC ( Suruhanjaya Bebas Salahlaku dan Aduan Polis ) dan membuat reformasi terhadap institusi Polis Diraja Malaysia.

Latar belakang:

R.Gunasegaran (31 tahun) didapati mati dalam tahanan di Balai Polis Sentul pada hari bulan 16 Julai 2009 selepas 2 jam dia ditangkap oleh polis dalam satu operasi penangkapan penagihan dadah di sekitar kawasan Sentul.
Namun demikian,kakak Gunasaegaran yang bernama R.Ganga Gowri telah melaporkan kepada polis terhadap sebab tidak setuju kematian adiknya adalah berpunca daripada pengambilan dadah yang berlebihan dan dia mempercayai Gunasegaran pernah dipukul oleh pengawai polis sebelum dia meninggal dunia, dan kenyataan tersebut disetujui oleh beberapa orang saksi yang pada masa itu berada dalam lokap yang sama dengan adiknya, mereka menyatakan Gunasegaran dipukul oleh polis dengan menggunakan hos getah dan juga kayu.

“Memperjuangkan Hak Asasi Manusia!”

Yap Heng Lung

Penyelaras SUARAM