Suhakam joins call for review of ISA replacement law

By Anisah Shukry
The Malaysian Insider
Apr 16, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — The newly-proposed security law to replace the Internal Security Act (ISA) must be reviewed to ensure it is in line with human rights principles, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today.

Suhakam highlighted that the Bill did not provide for judicial oversight in the extension of the detention period for up to 28 days, and expressed concerns over how it gave police the power to deny detainees immediate access to legal representation.

It added that the power to intercept communications under Clause 4(6) should be exercised through a court order rather than by the police, as it could “infringe personal liberty and the right to privacy”.

“The provisions in the Bill as well as the amendments to the other relevant laws must strike a balance between national security and fundamental liberties and human rights,” Suhakam Chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam said in a statement today.

“The Commission looks forward to further and continuing engagements with the government agencies… to ensure that obsolete and irrelevant laws are abolished and replaced by laws that are consistent with universally accepted human rights principles,” he added.

But he noted that certain provisions in the Bill were consistent with Suhakam’s recommendations from its 2003 report, such as for suspects to either be released or charged with specified security offences after having been detained for up to 28 days.

Hasmy also said that Suhakam will continue to monitor the implementation of the new law to ensure that it complies with international human rights principles and norms.

Putrajaya’s Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 has been met with growing criticism that it denies basic liberties, after being tabled in Parliament last week.

The Bar Council and the international civil liberties watchdog Human Rights Watch have warned that the Bill “could open the door to a range of future abuses.”

The ISA replacement law was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat last Tuesday, removing the government’s option to detain individuals without trial and providing a maximum detention of 28 days for investigation purposes.

Under the ISA, an individual believed to have committed a security offence can be detained for up to two years without trial, on orders from the home minister.

The Bill seeks to provide for “special measures” relating to security offences for the purpose of maintaining public order and security and for connected matters.

The new law also notably states that no individual can be arrested solely for his political belief or any political activity, as promised by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last year when announcing a raft of reforms aimed at increasing civil liberties.

But the Bill still allows any police officer to arrest and detain “any person whom he has reason to believe to be involved in security offences” without warrant for 24 hours for investigation.

  1. #1 by monsterball on Monday, 16 April 2012 - 11:59 pm

    It’s replacing to please voters.
    It’s replacing with different name to keep protecting the crooks.
    It’s the same with different name.
    It is continuing to fool Malaysians

  2. #2 by monsterball on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 12:02 am

    We have seen so many twistings by these crooks.
    They are depending on the police to protect them.
    Why must a Govt need so much protections …..more and more for decades?

  3. #3 by monsterball on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 2:44 am

    Everyone is not happy with the so call replacement law for ISA.
    When will UMNO blighters stop treating Malaysians as fools…over and over again.

  4. #4 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 4:44 am

    The new law should be directed at the TERRORISTS and not the opposition or ordinary people on the street.

  5. #5 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 6:55 am

    The problem (not just here but globally) is NOT about laws [ISA versus Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012, which is worse] but about the mindset, values and motivations of those who enforce and interpret the laws and the political and cultural milieu within which they are empowered to so do! Draconian laws allowing detention without trial are opposed by civil libertarians and freedom loving peoples because they are antithetical to Freedom and Civil Liberty but at the same time such laws are argued necessary to preserve and safe guard the very same Freedom and Civil Liberty of society against militants and terrorists threatening it!

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 6:56 am

    Human experience shows that every man invested with power is apt to abuse it for self interest. Words of the law are convenient instrument of abuse because words by their nature are open ended without mathematical precision. Yet everything boils down to balancing (by wordings of the law to be made) the need to limit the reach of the law to take away the liberty of ordinary citizens exercising democratic right of dissent due to enforcer’s abuse of power and, on the other side of the scale, the need to vest the enforcer with adequate discretion and power to curb the terrorist and militant’s freedom to harm others. The line is blurring because the very same militants and terrorists become what they are because they find democratic avenues for change to what they desire blocked by the powerful opposed to change!

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 6:57 am

    This then is a perennial and universal problem: no law however well crafted can prevent abuse of that law and power in a society controlled by corrupt elites supported by citizenry conducting their lives in a cultural setting opposed to openness and freedom of the individual. At the same time no law however draconian can be abused by elites if they were checked by a citizenry cherishing their freedom within an open society. It is not the law but the people/society that determines the level of freedom the law preserves or curbs.

  8. #8 by undertaker888 on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 7:33 am

    Hmmm…does it mean that, before, people are still prosecuted for their political belief up until recently? No wonder the bn samsengs are still relevant.

  9. #9 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 8:22 am

    I thought umno wanted a anti-terrorist act to replace the ISA. But it is now clear that the new provisions are actually anti people who are anti-umno. Of course those umno idiots made a seriously flawed assumption which is that umno will rule the country forever.

  10. #10 by DAP man on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 9:16 am

    “The new law also notably states that no individual can be arrested solely for his political belief or any political activity”……,

    Now, where will one go to if a DAP leader is arrested and the police he is a national security threat?
    Today every stupid magistrate grants a one-week remand order by the police even for “stealing chicken” or “hampering police investigations”.

    Our courts will always side the police and the government.
    It’s not the law, stupid. Its those who enforce it.

  11. #11 by k1980 on Tuesday, 17 April 2012 - 11:26 am

You must be logged in to post a comment.