Release Maria Chin
THE detention of Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah under Sosma refers. The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 is “to provide for special measures relating to security offences for the purpose of maintaining public order and security and for connected matters”. The Act was intended to replace the Internal Security Act.
Sosma looks like a better piece of legislation when compared to the ISA. It permits 28 days of detention without trial while the ISA permitted 60 days before two years’ extension by the Home Ministry. The actual conditions of detention and other facets of Sosma render it as draconian as its predecessor.
Sosma is not a law that defines crimes and provides punishment for acts of terrorism. It is a procedural law that operates in a manner similar to the Criminal Procedure Code. When a person is detained under Sosma, he or she is technically arrested for crimes outlined in Chapter VI or Chapter VII of the Penal Code. Under Sosma, the police can only prevent the detainee from meeting family members and deny access to legal counsel for the first 48 hours.
Sosma permits punitive punishment and detention without trial due to its “no-bail” policy. Traditionally, the granting of bail is up to the discretion of court, for cases under Sosma the courts no longer enjoy this discretion and cannot in theory provide bail. In practice, this would subject a person to incarceration for months if not years pending court hearings.
Chief Justice of Malaysia Tun Arifin Zakaria mentioned that there were 110 cases related to Sosma heard in court in 2015.
With the clandestine manner of detention and operational methods that violate human rights, the government cannot justify Sosma as a tool for “protecting the nation”.
Suaram calls for the immediate release of Maria Chin. We reiterate the call for all laws that permit detention without trial to be abolished or amended immediately as there can be no justification for laws that undermine the right to fair trial.
Kua Kia Soong Adviser Suara Rakyat Malaysia