Malaysia: End Detention Without Trial

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Activists hold placards during a protest against an amendment to a 1959 crime prevention act that would give police a stronger hand, outside the parliament house in Kuala Lumpur on September 30, 2013.


Activists hold placards throughout a protest against an amendment to some 1959 crime prevention act that will give police a more powerful hands, outdoors the parliament house in Kl on September 30, 2013.

&copy 2013 MOHD RASFAN/AFP/Getty Images

The Malaysian government should quickly repeal laws and regulations that enable detention without trial, Human Legal rights Watch stated today. The Malaysian home minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, announced on December 30, 2018 the government would amend, instead of rescind, preventing Crime Act 1959 and also the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012, each of which permit detention without trial, but provided no information on the suggested amendments.

&ldquoSuccessive Malaysian governments have guaranteed to abolish discredited laws and regulations that permit detention without trial, simply to cave to pressure from Malaysia&rsquos security forces,&rdquo stated Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Legal rights Watch. &ldquoMalaysia&rsquos new government should meet its reform agenda and abolish detention without trial for good.&rdquo

The Prevention of Crime Act reproduces the majority of the abusive provisions of Malaysia&rsquos well known Internal Security Act (ISA), that was repealed this year. What the law states enables police to detain suspects for approximately 59 days without any judicial oversight. Just like the ISA, a government-hired board can impose detention without trial for approximately 2 yrs, renewable indefinitely, order electronic monitoring, and impose other severe limitations around the freedoms of motion and association, without judicial review.

&ldquoPermitting a government-hired body to buy indefinite detention without judicial review or trial is definitely an open invitation to serious abuse,&rdquo Robertson stated. &ldquoThe Protection against Crime Act creates conditions favorable to torture and denies suspects the authority to challenge their detention or treatment.&rdquo

The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act enables law enforcement to detain suspects for approximately 4 weeks for a variety of “security offenses” without seeking authorization from the court. For that first 48 hrs, detainees could be denied use of an attorney and also to their loved ones, seriously growing the chance of abuse, Human Legal rights Watch stated. The act also overrides Malaysia&rsquos Rules of Evidence allowing using otherwise inadmissible evidence during security trials. Past government bodies used the act&rsquos provisions to detain Maria Chin Abdullah, the then chair from the Bersih election reform movement, the night time before a significant Bersih rally. She occured in solitary confinement for 11 days.

&ldquoMere amendments to laws and regulations that permit detention without trial are condemned to lead to future abuses,&rdquo Robertson stated. &ldquoThe government should repeal these laws and regulations and be sure that any substitute legislation restores judicial oversight of pre-trial detention in compliance with worldwide fair trial standards.&rdquo

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