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Malaysia
14.07.11
Urgent Interventions

Preventive detention of six leaders of the Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) under the Emergency Ordinance (EO)

Case MYS 140711

Arbitrary arrest and detention/ Alleged ill-treatment/Fear for the safety

The International Secretariat of the WorldOrganisation Against Torture (OMCT) requests your URGENT intervention inthe following situation in Malaysia.

Brief description of the situation

TheInternational Secretariat of OMCT has been informed by SUARAM, a member of OMCTSOS-Torture Network, about the preventive detention, since 2 July2011, of six leadersof theSocialistParty of Malaysia (PSM) (see below) under the EmergencyOrdinance (EO), in violation of fundamental due process rights. OMCT has alsobeen informed that the charges against 24 other PSM activists are stillpending.

Accordingto the information received, on 2 July 2011, the police rearrested Sungai Siput Member of Parliament (MP), Mr.Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj,PSM deputy chairperson, Mr. Saraswathy Muthu, central committee membersMr. Choo Chon Kai and Mr. Munisamy Sukumaran, Sungai Siput branchsecretary Mr. A. Letchumanan,and PSM Youth leader Mr. Sarat Babu,under the EmergencyOrdinance (EO), which allows for 60 days detention without trial, renewable forup to 2 years, at the discretion of the Home Minister. The police reportedlyinformed that they would be detained at the police headquarters in Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur. However, to date, their exact whereaboutscould not be ascertained and no charges have been brought against them.

Accordingto the same information received, the six aforementioned PSM leaders were regularlyinterrogated for four to five hours a day. They were reportedly allowed only onevisit by their families and lawyers, on 7 July2011,which took place at different locations in the city according to where theywere respectively detained at the time. A second visit has been scheduled for 15 July 2011, but no further information on the venue has been providedyet.

OMCThas been informed that Mr. MichaelJeyakumar Devaraj was admitted to the Malaysia heart institute due to a heartproblem while in custody. He was discharged on 13July 2011 and transferred back to the detention centre.

OMCT recalls that thesix aforementioned PSM leaders were among the 31 PSM activists, including threeminors one of whom was released the same day, who were arrested on 25 June 2011,at the Sungai Dua toll of Kepala Batas, while they were travelling by bus from Kedah for a planned Bersih (Coalitionfor Clean and Fair Elections)roadshow in Penang, in order to promote national awareness on fairelections[1]. They were all released on 2 July 2011, but the six aforementionedindividuals were immediately rearrested and the 24 other PSM activists were chargedunder Section 48(1) of the Societies Act 1966, in connection with the Bersih2.0 rally scheduled for 9 July 2011, and under Section 29 (1) of the InternalSecurity Act (ISA) for being in possession of subversive documents[2].The first hearing is reportedly scheduled for 21 July 2011, at the Butterworth Court in Penang.

OMCT has also been informedthat out of the 30 PSM activists detained, some were ill-treated (including useof solitary confinement and denial of medication, basic items and sufficientdrinking water). Some women detainees were allegedly beaten and punched by thepolice. They were denied access to a doctor and a lawyer and they were onlyallowed to see their families for the first time five days after their arrest.

The International Secretariat of OMCT is gravelyconcerned about the safety of the six aforementioned PSM activists and recallsto the authorities of Malaysia that they are legally bound to effectivelyensure the physical and psychological integrity of all persons deprived ofliberty in accordance with international human rights law.

OMCTfurther urges the competent authorities to immediately release the six aforementionedPSM activists in the absence of valid legal chargesand judicial process consistent with international legal standards, or if such charges exist, bring them before an impartial andcompetent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times. OMCT hason several occasions expressed gravest concerns over existing emergencyand anti-subversion laws in Malaysia which provide for indefinite detentionwithout trial in clear violation of internationallyrecognised human rights standards relating to fair trials, namely theDangerous Drugs Act 1985 (DDA), the 1969 EO and the Internal Security Act (ISA)[3].Under these laws, individuals are deprived of many oftheir fundamental human rights, such as their right to a fair and public trial,the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law, andtheir right not to be subjected to torture and other cruel, inhuman ordegrading treatment. In this regard, OMCT recalls that the UN WorkingGroup on Arbitrary Detention has urged the Government of Malaysia, following itsmission to the country, to take steps to repeal the four preventive laws inforce in the country that allow detention without trial, in some casesindefinitely, including the EO[4].

Action requested

Please write to theauthorities in Malaysia urging them to:

i. Immediately locate anddisclose the whereabouts ofthe sixabovementioned PSM;

ii. Guarantee, in allcircumstances, their physical and psychological integrity;

iii. Grant them unconditional access to a lawyer of their choice and their families, aswell as guarantee that they are promptly examined by independent doctors andreceive adequate and free medical care, in accordance, inter alia, with the UNStandard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners;

iv. Order the immediate releaseof the sixaforementioned PSM activists in the absence of validlegal charges that are consistent with international law and standards, or, ifsuch charges exist, bring them promptly before an impartial, independent andcompetent tribunal and guarantee their procedural rights at all times;

v. Drop the charges pending against the 24 other PSM activists relatingsolely to the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression andassembly;

vi. Carry out a prompt,effective, thorough, independent and impartial investigation into the arrest, detentionand allegation of ill-treatment of the 30 PSM activists, theresult of which must be made public, in order to bring those responsible beforea competent, independent and impartial tribunal and apply penal, civil and/oradministrative sanctions as provided by law;

vii. Ensure the respect of humanrights and fundamental freedoms throughout the country in accordance withnational laws and international human rights standards.

Addresses

Ø Prime Minister of Malaysia Mr. Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, PrimeMinister’s Office Malaysia, Perdana Putra Building, Federal GovernmentAdministrative Centre, 62502 PUTRAJAYA, Selangor, Malaysia, Fax: + 60 3 88883444, Email: ppm@pmo.gov.my

Ø Malaysian HomeAffairs Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, Ministry of Home Affairs,Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran, Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya, Fax:03-88891613/03-88891610, Email: hishammuddin@moha.gov.my

Ø Permanent Mission of Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva,ICC-1er/ H, Pré-Bois 20, P.O. 1834, CH-1215, Geneva 15, Switzerland, Email :mwgeneva@ties.itu.int, Fax: +4122 710 75 01

Please also write to the embassies of Malaysia in your respective country.

Geneva, 14 July 2011.

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting thecode of this appeal in your reply.

[1] From 22 June 2011 to date, the police reportedly arrested223 persons for investigation on politically motivated charges, in connectionwith the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), which was organizingan assembly for the 9 July 2011. On 1st July 2011, the Home Ministry reportedly gazettedBERSIH as an illegal organisation. During this peaceful assembly, the policereportedly used excessive force against the participants.

[2] Thepunishment includes a fine of less then RM10.000, a jail term of less than fiveyears or both.

[3] See for example OMCT joint press release on 1 August 2010,www.omct.org

[4] See the Report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, 8 February 2011, A/HRC/16/47/Add.2.

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