'Misuse of Sosma law' over detention of Bersih chairman

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) strongly objects the use of Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) on Bersih 2.0's chairman Maria Chin Abdullah.

Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said the usage of Sosma on Maria who has been detained by police without trial cannot be accepted by a "society that has a national conscience".

"The broad characterisation of "security offences" under Sosma now suggests that its scope extends beyond terrorism offences," he said in a statement today.

He pointed out that in 2011, the government had assured that no individual will be arrested merely on the point of political ideology.

"In this regard, Suhakam views the preventive detention of Maria is a misuse of law, an abuse of the legal system and of law enforcement," Razali said.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) also demanded the immediate release of Maria.

"We reiterate the call for all laws that permit detention without trial to be abolished or amended immediately as there can be no justification for laws that undermine the right to fair trial," Suaram read in a statement today.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail expressed surprise that Maria had been detained under Sosma.

"The arrest of the electoral reform group chairman under the terrorism preventive law is a breach of trust on what the government had promised when it enacted Sosma," she said in a statement today.

The PKR president urged police to release Maria immediately.

Under Sosma 2012, a person can be arrested without a warrant and be held for 24 hours for investigation.

The police may, however, extend the detention for up to 28 days for the purpose of investigations, and if the detained person is released before the end of the 28 days, the police may propose attaching an electronic monitoring device, through a court order, for the remainder of the 28-day period.

Maria was detained on Friday under Section 124C of the Penal Code that criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy.