Civil societies, MP, call for total repeal of Sosma

08 Nov 2019 / 16:13 H.

PETALING JAYA: Civil society organisations and an MP have called for a total repeal of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), instead of the proposed amendments to the act to make it less “draconian”.

The Malaysian Bar reiterated its stand that it wants Sosma to be repealed in its entirety, as it is an unnecessary piece of legislation that gives arbitrary powers to the police.

“This substantially erodes the right of an accused to a fair trial, and undermines the protections and fundamental liberties contained in the Federal Constitution,” said the Malaysian Bar president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor (pix) in a statement yesterday.

He also said the Malaysian Bar is aware of the government’s need to maintain national security, but this must always be done in harmony and recognition of constitutional guarantees and the rule of law.

“Sosma as it stands, has no place in a democratic nation, and it is an affront to the principles of natural justice,” he said.

He also argued that existing laws such as the Penal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code were sufficient to address terrorism-related offences without denying due process, and these should be enhanced as needed instead of enacting so-called “draconian” legislation.

Abdul Fareed also called for an immediate investigation into allegations of mistreatment, torture and intimidation of Sosma detainees, saying such reports reflect poorly on a government that professes adherence to the rule of law.

Saying the Bar was ready to help the federal government in this matter, Abdul Fareed reminded the ruling coalition of its election manifesto pledges.

Meanwhile, Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy said any laws or procedures that carry the notion of detention without and remands for days without judicial oversight are still draconian.

“So, reducing the remand days (detention to investigate) but without judicial oversight and without seeking proper court process is definitely draconian because it is taking away someone’s liberty first, which means punish first then charge later,” he told theSun yesterday.

He also said the Pakatan Harapan government’s engagement with civil society organisations in repealing draconian laws such as Sosma, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) and Sedition Act has been minimal.

“Most of the civil society organisations were only invited once, that was a year back for consultation. After that, we have yet to get any updates nor follow up meetings. This clearly indicates that the Home Ministry or PH is not serious in repealing these detentions without trial laws,” he said.

He added that if the PH government is serious on their promises, they should have stated a moratorium on the use of these laws until it is properly repealed or even amend it.

“The recent arrest under Sosma is another example where the PH is not prioritising it,” he said.

They were responding to news that Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is aiming to table amendments to Sosma, which includes reducing detention period under the Act from 28 to 14 days.

Jelutong MP, R. S. N Rayer, questioned why the detainees were charged under Sosma, if as alleged by police, the suspects were involved in transactions involving a large amount of money to resurrect LTTE.

“The police have said millions in transaction was detected. My question is where is the evidence? Why are they not charged under the Anti-Money Laundering Act 2001 (Amla)?” asked Rayer.

“I don’t agree with our Home Minister that the only provision they are looking at is the investigation time frame and detention period.”

He was referring to Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s announcement on Wednesday that the current 28-day maximum detention period for suspects arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) may be reduced by half once the act is amended later.

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