Re­lease Maria Chin

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPEAK UP -

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

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