Repeal repressive laws during first parliamentary sitting

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Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) urges our new Pakatan Harapan government to table bills repealing the Prevention of Crimes Act 1959 (Poca) and all remaining detention without trial laws at the coming first parliamentary session beginning on 16 July 2018.

The right to a fair trial will then be a reality for all in Malaysia. No more will anyone be subjected to arbitrary detention or restrictions without first being accorded the right to a fair trial and then sentenced by court after being found guilty.

Laws that allow for the exclusion of normal requirements of evidence and criminal procedures like the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) need also to be repealed fast.

Now, thousands of individuals are still victims of these draconian detention without trial laws, which deny victims the right to even challenge the very reasons for their arrest, detention or restrictions – because these detention without trial laws also specifically deny the court’s right to judicially review the reasons these detention without trial laws were even used against these individuals.

It has been almost one month, and nothing has been done to immediately release all victims of these detention without trial laws. Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin really must make this a priority, as the majority of the victims of these laws are Malaysians.

Note, that the Prevention of Crime Act( Poca) now allows, following amendments made by the previous Umno-BN government in 2014 and 2015, for any individual (who allegedly acted with others) who have committed any Penal Code Offence, including possibly for stealing a cow, to now simply be denied a trial and just be detained/restricted indefinitely under this detention without trial law. It would also be so easy to simply arrest and detain former premier Najib Razak under these detention withiout trial laws, for after all, he will also not be able to challenge whatever reasons that were used.

READ MORE:  Detention without trial: Use of Sosma, Poca most disturbing

When Malaysian voted out the Umno-BN, what we wanted was justice and rule of law, so we certainly do not want such detention without laws to even exist, let alone, be used against anyone anymore in this new Malaysia.

Note that being arrested, detained and/or restricted under detention without trial laws is not a sentence of the court after being found guilty and convicted. All these detention without trial victims can also at any time in the future still be charged, tried, convicted and sentenced again for the very same alleged ‘crimes’ for which they are now being (or had previously been) detained and/or restricted under these laws.

In the past, there may also be possible ulterior motives for the use of these detention without trial laws, which may also include corruption and/or even the ‘protection’ of other guilty parties. It also encourages, incompetence and inefficiency among the police, enforcement agencies and even prosecutors. No need for proper investigation or the need to acquire sufficient evidence, to prove to the court that a person is guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

Many in this new Pakatan Harapan government, including Anwar Ibrahim, Mohamad Sabu, Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng, have personally experienced detention without trial and injustices when they fell victim to such laws in the past.

As such, the immediate repeal of all these draconian detention without trial laws, which include Poca, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota) and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act must happen fast, during the first sitting of Parliament.

READ MORE:  Abolish Sosma, NSC Act, Pota, Poca now

Our new Home Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, and our new Attorney General, Tommy Thomas, must make this a priority now. Pakatan Harapan acted speedily in moving to get a royal pardon for Anwar Ibrahim; it is hoped that this same determination is shown to other Malaysians and others who continue to languish under these draconian detention without trial laws.

Likewise, other laws that impede freedom of expression, opinion, peaceful assembly and freedom of the press including that draconian Sedition Act must be repealed at the first sitting of Parliament.

Recent investigations commenced by the police under the Sedition Act and such anti-freedom laws are just another obvious reason why such laws must be immediately repealed. If not, these laws will continue denying Malaysians the very fundamental freedoms and justice that we all fought for, when we ousted the long-standing oppressive Umno-BN government, and put in place this alternative new government, which promised us justice and freedom in Malaysia.

Delay is not an option. Excuses like a need for ‘further study and/or review’ could suddenly emerge from even PH or its leaders, now that they are now in government. Meanwhile, such draconian legislation can now be used against opponents and critics. The silence of PH parties and leaders when the draconian Sedition Act was used by the police in the recent cases of Kadir Jasin and Hishamuddin Rais is a serious concern.

As such, Madpet urges the Malaysian government to not dilly dally and to immediately repeal Poca, Pota and all detention-without-trial laws, the Sedition Act and all other draconian laws that suppress freedom including freedom of expression, opinion, dissemination/sharing of information, peaceful assembly and press freedom.

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