Lawyers for Liberty is extremely concerned and appalled with recent calls for a law to fill the gap that had allegedly been caused by the abolition of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) that had allowed for detention without trial and wide and arbitrary powers of arrest and detention by the police and the Home Minister.

This is a real about-face from Prime Minister Najib Razak who has now shredded any last remaining “reformist” or “democrat” credential after going back to almost all of his human rights reform – by enacting the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 in place of the Internal Security Act (ISA), increasing the use of the Sedition Act after promising to abolish it, and cracking down on peaceful assembly after repealing section 27 of the Police Act.
We urge the government to recognize the serious impact such laws like the EO and ISA have had on the human rights and constitutional rights of a person to a fair trial and due process. Needless to say, it is a basic and fundamental right that every imprisonment or detention of a person must be done in accordance to a lawful process of investigation, a charge, a fair trial and a conviction before a court of law.
To blame the absence of the EO as the reason for the spike in crime is shockingly irresponsible and points to a deep and systemic failure in law and order and crime prevention. There is no cogent evidence to link the rise of crime to the EO’s repeal and such an excuse looks like an easy way out for those responsible, namely the Home Minister and PDRM.
While the safety and security of the public must be the paramount concern for the authorities, the solution will not be found in the reintroduction of oppressive and antiquated preventive laws like the EO or other similar laws that provide them with wide and arbitrary powers to detain suspects at their leisure for long periods of time without recourse to due process and a fair trial.
Instead of providing short cuts, the government should strengthen the police force properly and provide them with adequate resources, support and training to be a modern and civilised first world police force that rely on effective, innovative and modern investigation methods rather than the bad old days of torture, abuse of power and preventive laws.
The authorities should focus their resources on real crime fighting, instead of diverting their valuable resources to the redundant Special Branch and bloated Federal Reserve Unit, Light Strike Force, RELA and other public order and internal security apparatus that are then misused to suppress legitimate dissent from opposition political parties and civil society.
We call upon the authorities to observe international policing norms and to exercise their powers through a lawful process that must be supported by evidence, of arrest and detention, of search, seizure and any other investigations that must later stand in a court of law and not through preventive and detention without trial laws that are open to gross abuse.
Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Co-founder & Adviser
Lawyers for Liberty
5 July 2013
For more information, please contact:
Off: 03-7960 5688
Mobile: 017-6768 106
E-mail: [email protected]
Twitter: @lawyers4liberty