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Call to abolish detention without trial

03 May 2021 / 17:47 H.

PETALING JAYA: Civil societies and legal experts have urged the government to abolish security-related Acts that allow the detention of a person without trial.

They particularly singled out the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca).

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy said this is in light of the recent report of family members of 22 men

detained under Sosma who claimed they were assaulted while held in the Jelebu prison in Negri Sembilan.

“The Home Ministry should also do away with detention without trial and the use of excessive remand orders.

“We weren’t surprised that such ‘torture’ is being reported. In the past, such excessive force would fall under the Internal Security Act

that has been repealed,“ he told theSun yesterday.

It was revealed in a news conference last Saturday that the detainees, who are suspected of being involved in organised crimes,

were brought to Jelebu Prison to be quarantined.

Elisha Teh, sister-in-law of detainee B. Kalaiarasan, told theSun that he was brought there on April 8 and has since returned to Sungai Udang Prison in Malacca.

“It was when he was transferred back and I visited him that he shared with me the claim of being assaulted,“ she said.

“We then went to the Jelebu district police headquarters and were told there was a report of a riot and those involved had been charged under Section 147 of the Penal Code.”

Section 147 states that whoever is guilty of rioting shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine or both.

Asked on her next course of action, Teh said that will only be revealed once a decision has been made with the family’s lawyer, Paul Krishna Raja.

Krishna Raja told theSun that a letter is being drafted to the authorities to conduct a probe into the assault claim.

He agreed with Sevan for the Acts to be abolished.

“Instead, they should just be charged for a particular offence rather than be held under Sosma.”

Lawyer Charles Hector agreed with Krishna Raja, saying the courts should be able to make a decision to permit bail.

The Bar Council had pointed out that Sosma stipulates that individuals accused of security offences shall not be granted bail, and that they can be arrested and detained for up to 28 days without being brought before a magistrate.

Hector added that deaths or assault in custody “is not linked to a person’s ethnicity or race.

“It’s more likely linked to a person’s class, the poorer you are, the likelihood of being assaulted or detained,“ he added.

He further called on the government to separate remand persons from those charged and be accorded their rights.

This is in addition to the call to place a personnel independent from the Prisons Department jurisdiction to act as an ombudsman, an official appointed to investigate individuals’ complaints against a company or organisation, especially a public authority.

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