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Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Suhakam takes gov't to task over Pota

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) is taking the government to task for reviving detention without trial under the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota)

While supporting Putrajaya's fight against militancy, Suhakam said such a battle must not come at the cost of decreased human rights.

"The government has an obligation to ensure that the constitutional rights of its citizens are protected by taking positive measures to counter threats of terrorism and extremism.

"(But) such measures must not pose disproportionate challenges to fundamental human rights and the rule of law, and jeopardise the principles of democracy," Suhakam chairperson Hasmy Agam said in a statement yesterday.

Hasmy (left) said there were not enough safeguards against abuse of power to back up the government’s assurance that Pota will not be used to stifle dissent.

This includes the lack of legal representation for suspected terrorists during an inquiry, as well as the inability to seek judicial review.

"The commission thus recommends that the authorities develop an effective, feasible framework for the detention, interrogation and trial of suspected terrorists which would allow the authorities to capitalise on its intelligence agencies to disable suspected terrorist activities," Hasmy said.

He also urged the government to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Pota was passed without amendment in the Dewan Rakyat at close to 2.30am yesterday, after 12 hours of debate.

The Act allows the government to detain suspected terrorists without trial for two years, with a Prevention of Terrorism Board empowered to renew the detention indefinitely.

Opposition lawmakers have dubbed it a revival of the now repealed Internal Security Act.

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