Press Statement

Latest SOSMA Amendments are Needless and Dangerous

23 October 2013

We call for caution against placing offences from the Penal Code and the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ATIP) when amending the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA). These amendments reflect an attempt to widen the very draconian ambit of security offences in Malaysia.

SOSMA has been put in place for the purpose of ‘maintaining public order’ and ‘security’, pursuant to Article 149 of the Federal Constitution, which allows its derogation from constitutional articles for the greater ‘safety’ of the federation. Article 149 envisaged these measures to be temporary and operative against subversion and dangers to public order.

Our objection to placing the Penal Code and anti-trafficking offences into the security offences framework stems from the fact that these are not extraordinary offences and should therefore be governed by the Criminal Procedure Code, with established and basic fair trial safeguards unlike SOSMA.

SOSMA is only supposed to apply to genuine security offences as opposed to crimes which occur daily such as trafficking and organized crime.

LFL is against the inclusion of these offences because they widen the ambit of security offences under SOSMA and will allow the state to derogate from its responsibilities in upholding constitutional rights and standards of fair trial.

The inclusion of migrant smuggling and organized crime into the definition of security offences is an act of laziness to transform the term ‘security offences’ into a ‘catch all’ category where virtually any offence comprising more than one participant will amount to an offence threatening to public order.

Rather than creating more unnatural security offences, we urge the state to focus its resources properly in tackling organized crimes and people trafficking via standard law enforcement and prosecution norms that respect human rights, legal procedures and standards of fair trial.

Issued by,
Michelle Yesudas
Legal/ Campaign Coordinator
Lawyers for Liberty

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