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Friday, 3 April 2015

Proposed Anti-Terrorism Bills a regression for human rights compliance in Malaysia

Proham recognises the threat of terrorism is a real challenge which requires a range of interventions in addressing both root causes, as well as effective prevention and intervention strategies by both authorities and Malaysian society as a whole.

Proham reviewed the six bills before Parliament especially the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015 (POTA) and makes the following five conclusions:-

First, Proham expresses great concern that the new proposed bill POTA does not provide for judicial discretion or judicial review. This is a blatant violation of human rights and lacks the most basic principle of justice. Proham is of the opinion that section 4 merely creates an illusion of judicial oversight when in actuality there is none.
Second, on the issue of judicial discretion when the suspect is brought before a Magistrate for 21 days and subsequently before a sessions court judge for 38 days the judges are not given any information or material or substantiated grounds for the detention. Only a written statement is provided. There is no opportunity for the judge to examine or test the contents of the written statement. This limits the role of the judge to a mere rubber stamp. Nor does the judge have a right to reduce the length of the remand.
Third, on the issue of judicial review there is none as indicated in section 19 (1) of POTA. The decisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Board is above judicial review and this denial is a travesty of justice. This provision is unacceptable and open to abuse.
Fourth, the basic right for legal counsel of your choice which is another basic human right is denied in POTA
Fifth, POTA brings back long term “detention without trial” for a two year period by the Prevention of Terrorism Board and which can be renewed. This provision is totally unacceptable as this is a violation of basic human rights.
Proham is of the opinion that there are sufficient laws for the Police and enforcement agencies especially with the earlier amended provisions of the Penal Code Chapter VI A which relates to offences relating to terrorism. These provisions already address the issues pertaining to recruitment for terrorism and training. In addition Penal Code 130B (2) already provides for terrorist acts “within or beyond Malaysia” and Penal Code 130J already provides for “entering or remaining in any country … with a terrorist group”

Proham also notes that the provisions in the Security Offences (Special Measures Act 2012 (SOSMA) already provides for detention up to 28 days for investigation. This provision enables the Police adequate powers to arrest and prevent the occurrence of any terrorist act prior to the incident. In SOSMA there are already provisions for electronic monitoring device.

Proham proposes that the Government addresses the root causes of why young people are being radicalised and recruited. There is a need to formulate intervention strategies in combating terrorism in winning hearts and minds especially within an ideological debate in line with community policing. This requires working with religious and community leaders and in providing the space for young people to discuss the many issues pertaining.

In addition Proham calls on the Government to invest in the capabilities and competencies of Police officers in evidence based investigation.

Proham therefore calls on the Malaysia Government to withdraw all the proposed anti-terror bills as these measures will not adequately address the issues pertaining to terrorism and does not enhance a human rights approach to fighting terrorism in modern Malaysia.

Issued on behalf of Proham by Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Chairman), Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah (Asst Secretary), Ms Ivy Josiah (Exco) & Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Secretary General).

April 4, 2015

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