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Saturday, 4 April 2015

'Terrorism bills regression for human rights'

NGO Proham said it has studied the six new proposed anti-terrorism bills and have found numerous violations of basic human rights provisions in them, and recommends they be scrapped.

Calling it a "regression" for human rights compliance in Malaysia, Proham's committee in a statement today outlined five areas of concern in the bills, in particular the Prevention of Terrorism Bill 2015 (Pota).

"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," said the group comprising Proham chairperson Kuthubul Zaman, secretary general Denison Jayasooria, assistant secretary Muhammad Sha'ani Abdullah and exco member Ivy Josiah

"Proham is of the opinion that section 4 merely creates an illusion of judicial oversight when in actuality there is none," they added.

Secondly, said the group, the provision of just a written statement to the judges with no additional information or material or substantiated grounds for the detention reduces the role of the magistrates as mere "rubber stamp".

"Nor does the judge have a right to reduce the length of the remand," they said.

'Open to abuse'

Thirdly, said the group, the absence of judicial review as indicated in section 19 (1) of Pota was "unacceptable and open to abuse".

"The decisions of the Prevention of Terrorism Board is above judicial review and this denial is a travesty of justice," said the Proham committee.

The Pota, they claimed, also denies the "basic human right" to have a counsel of one's choice.

Finally, said the group, Pota reintroduces detention without trial up to two years and subject to renewal.

"This provision is totally unacceptable as this is a violation of basic human rights," they said.

Proham said the new bills were superfluous as existing laws were sufficient to deal with terrorist threats, "especially with the earlier amended provisions of the Penal Code chapter VI A which relates to offences relating to terrorism".

Penal Code 130B (2) and Penal Code 130J also provide for laws tackling terrorist acts both at home and abroad.

'Existing laws sufficient'

The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), it added, has also given police the power of 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 devices," they said.

The group said the government should be looking at the root causes of why young people are being radicalised and recruited into terrorist activities and formulate preventive strategies.

The government should also invest in the capabilities and competencies of police officers in "evidence-based investigations".

Proham said the government should withdraw all the proposed bills as they are inadequate in addressing root problems and "does not enhance a human rights approach to fighting terrorism in modern Malaysia".

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