PETALING JAYA: A human rights lawyer has described the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) as a revamped and more insidious version of the 1969 Emergency (Public Order and Crimes Prevention) Ordinance (EO), which was repealed in 2013.
Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen said Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed was making the wrong comparison when he said Poca was unlike the Internal Security Act in that it was not a draconian law.
“That is not the comparison,” he told FMT. “Poca should be compared to the EO. Indeed, it is worse than the EO because, while it appears that there’s judicial oversight, there is actually none.”
He noted that Poca, like the EO, allows a person to be detained without trial.
Under Poca, he added, a magistrate would have no choice but to give a remand order. He said this was abnormal because remand applications should always be subject to challenges.
“Under Poca, it appears that the magistrate’s court does not have a choice. Whenever there is a application signed by a police officer, the court will have to give the order.”
Yesterday, Nur Jazlan said Poca gave detainees rights that were more secure than those provided under the ISA.
“Under the ISA, a minister had full power,” he said. “With the signature of a minister, an individual can be detained for up to 60 days and the minister can also issue a detention order.
“However, with Poca, the authorities can apply for remand twice, on the 21st and 38th days.”
Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah said Nur Jazlan’s comment showed a lack of understanding of human rights standards.
She said the government could not continue to defend itself by saying the legislation was for the prevention of crime or even terrorism.Bersih leader Maria Chin Abdullah said Nur Jazlan’s comment showed a lack of understanding of human rights standards.
“Existing laws are enough to do the job,” she told FMT.
She added that if Malaysian leaders did not understand what human rights were, they had no business vying for any United Nations position.
She said the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” was violated by such acts.
“Poca, ISA, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) and the Prevention of Terrorism Act are laws that totally violate human rights because of detention without trial, regardless of how long or short the detention.”
She said her experience as a human rights defender detained under Sosma, which is used against terrorism and gangsterism, was proof that such draconian laws were open to abuse.