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Friday, 29 July 2016

OHCHR concerned by the entry into force in Malaysia of the National Security Council (NSC) Act on 1 August

The UN Human Rights Office for South-East Asia (OHCHR) said on Friday it
was concerned by the entry into force in Malaysia of the National Security
Council (NSC) Act which gives the Prime Minister sweeping security powers
and could restrict civil liberties.

The Act, which comes into effect on 1 August, establishes a National
Security Council to handle matters related to national security and will be
headed by Prime Minister Najib Razak. Through the Act, the Prime Minister
will have the power to declare, upon the advice of the NSC, a “security
area”, defined as being a location “seriously disturbed or threatened by
any person, matter or thing which causes or is likely to cause serious harm
to the people of Malaysia, or serious harm to the territories, economy,
national key infrastructure of Malaysia or any other interest of Malaysia”.
The declaration is valid for up to 6 months, and can be renewed an infinite
number of times.

Forces operating in a “security area” will be given sweeping powers,
including the capability to arrest and search persons, enter and search
premises, and seize property without a warrant. Furthermore, they will be
allowed to use force against persons, including force amounting to death,
as they deem reasonable and necessary in the circumstances “to preserve
national security”. Moreover, the Act grants immunity to members of
security forces and personnel of other Government entities for their acts
in any “security area”.

“These provisions run counter to the requirement to investigate wrongdoing
and hold institutions and their personnel accountable in the case of human
rights violations,” said Laurent Meillan, OHCHR’s acting regional
representative in Bangkok. “We are gravely concerned that the immunity
provisions in the Act may encourage human rights violations.”

Meillan expressed concern that the Act could also be used to impose unjust
restrictions on freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of assembly.
“We call on the Government to revise the Act to bring it in line with
international human rights norms and standards. Furthermore, we encourage
the Government to allow for an open and transparent consultation process on
the provisions in the Act with all relevant stakeholders,” he said.

* The National Security Council Bill 2015 was presented in Parliament on 1
December 2015. It was passed by the Lower House on 3 December 2015 and the
Upper House on 22 December 2015.

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