Urgent Interventions

No U-turn on repeal on Internal Security Law

​MALAYSIA: No U-turn on repeal onInternal Security Law

Geneva, 21 November 2011. The WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) today called on the Malaysian authoritiesto follow through on its commitment to revoke one of the regions’ most notorioussecurity laws and to end detention without trial.

‘The continuous and again increaseduse of arrests under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in Malaysia is at odds to theGovernments’ plans to end detention without trial’, said Gerald Staberock,Secretary General of the OMCT. Since its enactment in 1960, the colonial stylesecurity legislation is used to detain persons without trial or charge.

According tothe information received, 13 individuals were arrested under the ISA in Tawau, inSabah state. OMCT’smember organisation Suaram identified the following 11 individuals: Mohd Nazri Bin Dollah (religious teacher at SMKKinabutan), Yusof Bin Saripuddin(poultry dealer), Muhd Adnan Bin Umar(teacher at MJU Tuition Centre), MuhdAbduh Bin Umar (lorry driver), Adwan,Faizal Bin Hamma (newspapersdistributor), Joni Muadz (newspapersdistributor), Azmi, Suriadi, Darto Bin Bandu (teacher at MJU Tuition Centre) and Bakar Bin Baba (teacher at SMKUmas-umas). They were reportedly arrested by police officers of the Departmentof Special Task Force, Bukit Aman, between the 14 and 15 November 2011 and are currently being held underpolice custody in Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah. No further informationon their fate is currently available. The reasons for their arrest remainunclear but it is believed to be associated with allegations of terrorism.

Prime Minister Najib Razak hadannounced two months ago in a widely regarded speech his governments’ intentionto revoke the ISA. However, no timetable has been set on the end to thepractice of detention without trial or charge. Repealing the ISA is animportant and much needed step that should be accompanied with an immediatemoratorium on its application.

The ISA carries an extraordinarylegacy of arbitrary detention, political abuse and has created an environment facilitatingtorture and ill-treatment as documented by the UN Working Group on ArbitraryDetention in 2010 and by civil society organisations in Malaysia, including OMCT’s memberSuaram[1].Recent reports also suggest that the ISA may be replaced by a modified and marginallyimproved regime of administrative detention under new counter-terrorismlegislation.

‘Replacing it with acounter-terrorism regime of detention without trial will only entrench arbitrarydetention and risks being not much more than window dressing’, said GeraldStaberock. ‘Rather than side-lining the cause of justice there is need tostrengthen the ordinary civilian justice system to respond adequately to securitythreats.’

OMCT also calls on thegovernment to immediately release all remaining individualsdetained under the ISA, including the aforementioned individuals, and otherdetention-without-trial laws in the absence of valid legal charges and judicialprocess consistent with international legal standards. If such charges exist, the authorities should bring thembefore an impartial and competent tribunal and guarantee their proceduralrights at all times.

Finally,OMCT also calls on the government of Malaysia to take the necessarysteps to sign and ratify without delay, and thereafter effectively implement theUnited Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or DegradingTreatment or Punishment as well as the Optional Protocol to this Convention.

[1] Already in 2003, theWorking Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that administrative detentionon such grounds, even when in conformity with a domestic law, constitutes aviolation of the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial judicialauthority. It consequently considered that the detention under suchconditions was arbitrary. See Opinion No. 10/2004 (MALAYSIA).

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