LFL Press Statement
26 November 2014
No to detention without trial in anti-terrorism law

Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern Home Minister Zahid Hamidi’s statement today that the new anti-terrorism law will include “preventive measures” which normally means detention without trial and wide and arbitrary powers of arrest and detention by the police and the Home Minister.

While not doubting the seriousness of extremist and militant elements in Malaysia, we urge the government to recognize the serious impact such laws like the Emergency Ordinance and the Internal Security Act (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.

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 ISA that provide for wide and arbitrary powers to detain suspects indefinitely 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 preventive laws which can only lead to abuse of power and injustice.

The authorities should refocus the Special Branch and other internal security apparatus to target genuine security threats like terrorism, extremism and militancy rather than being misused to suppress legitimate dissent and the opposition.

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
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty

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