No rule of law and fair trial if Sosma stays

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Graphic: freemalaysiatoday.com

We, the undersigned civil society organisations, are gravely concerned with the continued use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) in spite of Pakatan Harapan’s election manifesto to abolish the draconian provisions of this law, which permits detention without trial.

In addition, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad stated in July 2018 that Sosma would be abolished.

The dragnet that led to the arrest and detention of at least 12 individuals with alleged links to the long-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is not only a betrayal of these promises but stands as yet another failure by the Pakatan Harapan administration in upholding fundamental principles of the rule of law and the right to fair trial.

The police have revealed that they have conducted an investigation into the alleged support for LTTE before conducting their operations and detaining the 12 individuals under Sosma.  Ayob Khan’s claim only raises a further question as to why Sosma was even invoked to address the possible threat to the safety and security of Malaysia.

As countless human rights advocates and lawyers have raised in the past, the Criminal Procedure Code provides adequate powers and leeway for the police to discharge their functions as necessary. Section 105 of the Criminal Procedure Code grants the police power to arrest and prevent seizable offence and powers to remand a person up to a maximum of 14 days through the remand process.

If an adequate investigation has been conducted and the police already possess preliminary evidence as to the alleged crime committed by the 12 individuals, why are they not detained for further investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code? Why is there a need for further extended remand under Sosma when they ought to be produced and charged in court as soon as possible?

READ MORE:  Abolish detention without trial, respect right to fair trial

The suggestion that detention under Sosma would provide the police with a more detailed statement as opposed to calling these individuals for a statement under Section 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code is equally as absurd.

If these individuals are providing their full cooperation towards the investigation, there should be no difference as to when and where they provide their statement to the police. The only difference of having them under Sosma detention is that they would be vulnerable to physical and mental abuse by the police as evidenced by countless former Sosma detainees who have publicly revealed the gruesome torture and abuses experienced by them during the 28-days remand period.

Ayob Khan has thus far only revealed that the police allegedly found flags, posters and pictures of LTTE leaders and that financial transactions supporting the LTTE cause were detected. To date, there is no known report as to what specific offences these 12 individuals were allegedly detained for.

As Sosma is merely a procedural law used in conjunction with Penal Code offences or other offences listed within Sosma’s schedule, the police must reveal publicly the alleged offences these individuals are under investigation for.

We would like to reiterate to the police and the Pakatan Harapan administration that the right to a fair trial is fundamental to the criminal justice system of any country. The absence of a guarantee that any person facing a criminal allegation against them would be provided with a fair chance to defend themselves, would only tarnish the integrity of our criminal justice system and erode public confidence in the system.

READ MORE:  Stop arrests under Sosma

Just as the Internal Security Act 1960 was a draconian law and a relic of a darker time when gross human rights violations were the norm in Malaysia, Sosma is a relic of the previous administration that cares not for the fundamental rights and freedoms of Malaysians.

There is no place for Sosma in Malaysia if we aspire for greater democracy and development in the country, and the retention of Sosma will only erode any confidence Malaysians have in the sincerity of Pakatan Harapan in institutional reform.

To this end, we, the undersigned civil society organisations, call for these 12 individuals to be released from Sosma detention, for further investigations to be conducted in line with the provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and for those detained to be charged in open court.

Mansuh Sosma!

Endorsed by:

  1. Agora Society
  2. Association of Women Lawyers
  3. Bersih 2.0
  4. Beyond Borders Malaysia
  5. Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4 Centre)
  6. Centre for Independent Journalism
  7. G25
  8. Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM)
  9. Justice for Sisters
  10. Kryss Network
  11. Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Women Section
  12. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)
  13. North-South Initiative
  14. Our Journey
  15. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
  16. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak)
  17. Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
  18. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor (PSWS)
  19. Pusat Komas
  20. Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
  21. Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham)
  22. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
  23. Tenaganita
  24. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
  25. Women Aid Organisation (WAO)
  26. Writers’ Alliance for Media Independence (Wami)
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Roy Solomon

And he is gravely concerned that Zakir Naik, an ‘uang asing’, would receive a fair trial in his home country.