Security laws must consider human rights too, says Suhakam

Debra Chong
The controversy over Sosma is a clause that allows the police to detain a person without going to court for 28 days, which technically can be renewed indefinitely. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has called for a balance in laws aimed to protect sovereignty and those that uphold human rights principles following the controversial detention without trial of 12 people suspected of terror links.

It expressed concern by the police invocation of Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) for the arrests, including two DAP state lawmakers, said to be trying to revive the defunct Sri Lankan militant group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

“Suhakam’s position on security laws relating to detention without trial has always been consistent, in that detention without trial goes against the core principles of human rights,” it said in a statement late last night.

While it acknowledged the creation of the law under Article 149 of the Federal Constitution to prevent threats to security and public order, Suhakam highlighted the need for judicial oversight.

“Suhakam understands that an appropriate balance must be struck between the need to protect the nation from security threats and the maintenance of human rights.

“Freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to a fair trial and the right to social and international order in which all rights can be fully realised are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Federal Constitution,” it added.

The controversy over Sosma is a clause that allows the police to detain a person without going to court for 28 days, which technically can be renewed indefinitely.

However, Suhakam added that it is “encouraged” by the government’s announcement that it is reviewing Sosma and offered to advise and assist in the review.

DAP assemblymen G. Saminathan and P. Gunasekaren and 10 others were arrested last week on suspicion of promoting, supporting, channelling funds to and possessing materials related to LTTE.

DAP’s Lim Kit Siang has urged the ruling Pakatan Haapan to repeal the law, saying this was contained in the pact’s election manifesto.

Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has defended the need for the security law to rein in terrorism, but said is review may be tabled in Parliament next year.

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