HAKAM Applauds AG’s Decision Not To Appeal High Court Ruling That Denial of Bail Under SOSMA is Unconstitutional

HAKAM applauds the Attorney General’s statement today dated 13th December 2019. The Attorney General rightfully observed that Section 13 of SOSMA which denies bail to an accused is:

Pic from the Reuters

(a) unconstitutional as it takes away the judicial power of the Courts which forms the basic structure of our Federal Constitution, as held by our Federal Court in Semenyih Jaya & Indira Gandhi; and
(b) unacceptable because it offends the fundamental concept that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

HAKAM is particularly encouraged by the Attorney General’s decision not to appeal Justice Nazlan’s decision which rightfully held that Section 13 of SOSMA is unconstitutional.

HAKAM also supports the Attorney General’s observation that the striking down of Section 13 of SOSMA does not mean that there will be jeopardy to public safety – this is because bail can still be denied by a Judge if there is sufficient evidence that the accused poses a risk to the public, as in all other criminal cases.

HAKAM is confident that the Courts in our country will take note of this development and proceed to exercise their discretion to allow bail to accused persons detained under SOSMA, should the circumstances call for it.

HAKAM trusts the wisdom of the Courts to exercise such discretion on bail judiciously in order to strike an appropriate balance between the rights of an accused and public safety.

Finally, HAKAM reiterates its call to the Government to fulfill its manifesto promise of abolishing SOSMA in its entirety.

Human Rights Day 2019 – HAKAM Urges Government to Expedite Pro-Human Rights Reforms

In conjunction with Human Rights Day on 10th December 2019, HAKAM urges the Government to expeditiously fulfill its manifesto promises in respect of human rights reforms.

There is no doubt that the Government has achieved praiseworthy progress on the human rights front. Some of these include:

  • lowering the voting age to 18;
  • automatic voter registration;
  • abolishing the Anti-Fake News Act 2018;
  • amending the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012;
  • creating the environment for a relatively freer press;
  • appointing independent & credible judges to key positions in the Judiciary;
  • tabling SUHAKAM report for debate in Parliament for the first time in 19 years; and
  • establishing a Parliamentary Select Committee on Human Rights & Constitutional Affairs and a Parliamentary Select Committee on Gender Equality & Family Development;

But the Pakatan Harapan Government was elected on 9th May 2018 by an electorate which expects more substantial human rights reforms and cementing of the rule of law. It has been 1 ½ years since the Government was elected into power, yet there is much more that needs to be done.

HAKAM hereby urges the Government to quicken its pace and to steadfastly carry out the following human rights reforms in Malaysia:

  • Establish an effective Independent Police Complaints & Misconduct Commission (IPCMC);
  • Abolish the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA);
  • Abolish the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA);
  • Abolish the Prevention of Crime Act 1959;
  • Abolish the Sedition Act 1948;
  • Abolish the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984;
  • Abolish the National Security Council Act 2016;
  • Abolish the death penalty in all forms; and
  • Enact a Freedom of Information Act

There will no doubt be forces which will resist such reforms. But all of these reforms are promises which were made in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto. The Government must be bold and resolute in fulfilling the same.

Rest assured that civil society and many segments of the rakyat will be behind the Government in carrying out such reforms.

Lim Wei Jiet

Secretary-General of HAKAM

In blow to Sosma, High Court allows DAP rep detained over LTTE links to seek bail

From the Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 — Lawyers acting for G. Saminathan convinced the High Court today that the DAP assemblyman was entitled to bail despite the invocation of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act for his detention, according to Bernama.

G. Saminathan was among 12 people including Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran who were detained using the Sosma and charged over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Pic from the Reuters

Provisions of the security law that allows detention without trial prohibit bail.

Saminathan was among 12 people including Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran who were detained using the Sosma and charged over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

The Malaysiakini news portal reported judge Mohd Nazlan Ghazali as finding that the Sosma provision that barred the courts from considering bail to be unconstitutional as it effectively allowed the executive to override the judiciary, violating the separation of powers among the different branches of government.

The landmark decision will also benefit the others still detained using the preventive detention law despite already being charged with supporting or possessing material related to the defunct Sri Lankan terrorist group.

Lawyer Ramkarpal Singh, who represented the DAP lawmaker, previously argued that the provision denying Sosma detainees bail was an overreach of the constitutional article that allowed the passage of security laws that may infringe on some civil liberties.

Among others, he said this effectively usurped the role of the judiciary as well as its lawful discretion in such matters.

On November 1, the Sessions Court decided that there was merit in the application filed by Saminathan and 11 others to challenge their prevention of bail under the Sosma and referred the matter to the High Court.

Aside from Saminathan and Gunasekaran, the others detained are V. Balamurugan; S. Teran; A. Kalaimughilan; S. Chandru; S. Arivainthan; S. Thanagaraj; M. Pumugan; R. Sundram; V. Suresh Kumar and B. Subramaniam.

They were variously arrested in October and charged at the end of the month with offences related to the LTTE.

The Sosma was among security laws the Pakatan Harapan coalition had suggested it would repeal while campaigning in the 14th general election but which it has since said would simply be reviewed now that it is in power.

Special committee set up to study security laws

Source: Borneo Post

KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry has set up a special committee to review existing laws, especially those in relation to national security which are allegedly contrary to human rights, its Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.

Muhyiddin said the committee, which was set up last week, is chaired by the ministry’s Secretary-General Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim.

“We will look at and review the laws that come under the Home Ministry. Among those raised are the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA) and the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA).

“Our goal is to determine in implementing domestic laws the people do not feel that they are being used  for political purposes, to punish certain parties due to differences in ideology and so on,” he said. Read more

Muhyiddin: Home ministry to review seven ‘unsuitable’ national security laws

Source: The Malay Mail

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin speaks at the Department of Home Affairs in Putrajaya May 22, 2018. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, May 22 — The Home Ministry will review seven laws relating to national security which are no longer suitable in today’s landscape, said the new Home Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He said these laws were the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, Sedition Act 1948, Peaceful Assembly Act 2012,  Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), and mandatory death sentence.

Muhyiddin said the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), non-governmental organisations and social activists would be asked to give their views on these laws.

“These laws will be reviewed and, if necessary, replaced. It will need a bit of time, but not up to five years until the next general election,” he told reporters when asked for the time needed to complete the review.

Muhyiddin was speaking at his first press conference as the new Home Minister after attending a briefing given by heads of departments and agencies under the ministry. — Bernama

No signs of abuse, but cops accused of negligence in Thanabalan’s death

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Thanabalan Subramaniam, 38, was arrested late last month outside a school in Kapar, died in custody 20 days later. His family was told that he died of a heart attack. Image from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The post-mortem on Thanabalan Subramaniam, who died in police custody, could not confirm the cause of death but there were no signs that he was subject to any physical abuse, says incumbent Kapar MP G Manivannan.

Speaking to FMT, Manivannan said tissue and blood samples had been taken for further analysis to determine the cause of death.

Yesterday, Selangor police said they suspected that the centralised lock-up where the 38-year-old Thanabalan was being held had been contaminated by an infection.

“However, I believe there is an element of medical negligence on the part of the police as they should have ensured that Thanabalan received medical attention quickly,” Manivannan said.

Thanabalan, who was allegedly detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma, died at Hospital Shah Alam on Tuesday after being rushed there from the Shah Alam police headquarters where he had been held for some 20 days.

His death led to questions by civil society groups on the police’s commitment to putting an end to custodial deaths. Read more

Police want ‘screening’ at lock-up, hospital after custodial death

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Police have requested a “screening” at Hospital Shah Alam and the Shah Alam police headquarters following the death of driving instructor Thanabalan Subramaniam in police custody last night.

Selangor Criminal Investigation Department chief SAC Fadzil Ahmat said the screening would be conducted by the hospital as police suspected the centralised lock-up was contaminated by an infection.

He did not reject the possibility of Thanabalan, who was allegedly detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act or Sosma, having fallen victim to the infection.

“However, the cause of the death will be determined by an autopsy, which will be done today,” he said when contacted by FMT. Read more

Man allegedly nabbed under Sosma dies in police custody

Thanabalan Subramaniam, 38, was arrested late last month outside a school in Kapar, died in custody 20 days later. His family was told that he died of a heart attack. Image from FMT News.

SHAH ALAM: A 38-year-old man from Kapar who was arrested by the police 20 days ago has died in custody.

According to family members, driving instructor Thanabalan Subramaniam was arrested in front of SJK (C) Soo Jin on March 29, while sending one of his children to school.

Last night, his family received a phone call from the police informing them that Thanabalan had passed away after a heart attack.

Speaking to FMT at the Shah Alam Hospital, family members claimed police told them that Thanabalan was detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, or Sosma.

“We could not see him after he was arrested, supposedly because he was detained under Sosma,” said one family member. Read more

Suaram says fewer sedition cases recorded in 2017

Source: Free Malaysia Today

KUALA LUMPUR: The use of the Sedition Act 1948 to curb freedom of expression took a backseat this year, with related offences largely falling under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA), a Suaram report found.

The 55-page Suaram human rights report overview, which was launched today, said there were nine known documented cases under the Sedition Act, while the CMA had 146.

“While the overall reduction in arrest, detention and prosecution under the Sedition Act is a welcome improvement, the documented cases in 2017 suggests that the Act still stands as one of the more noteworthy laws in restricting freedom of expression, despite the existence of other more well-used legal provisions,” the report said. Read more

Maria: End of year-old case over Bersih shows Sosma detention was baseless

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 ― Bersih 2.0’s Maria Chin Abdullah claimed the police’s decision to close a year-old case against the polls reform group showed that her detention without trial was baseless.

Maria, who chairs Bersih 2.0, said police also decided to return all items seized from Bersih 2.0, at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters today.

“Bukit Aman police has informed me that all investigations towards Bersih 2.0 and me have been closed.

“More interestingly, I was made to understand by the police that the return of the seized items are on the orders of the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

“Therefore it is proven that my detention under Sosma was without basis at all, and was merely a move to intimidate me, my family and Malaysians who love peace, democracy and justice,” she said in a statement today, referring to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act. Read more