Thursday, May 1, 2008

ABOLISH ISA NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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KUALA LUMPUR: A delegation from Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and the Malaysian Bar Human Rights Committee today presented a joint memorandum on the abolition of the Internal Security Act 1960 and all other preventive detention laws to the Leader of the Opposition, Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah (PR-Permatang Pauh).

At a press conference held at the lobby of Parliament this afternoon, GMI chairman Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh Alhabshi explained this latest campaign spearheaded by GMI in the light of the upcoming 6th anniversary of detention of many of the ISA detainees. However GMI’s call was for the release of all ISA detainees, numbering 70, regardless of duration of detention. HRC co-deputy chairperson Amer Hamzah Arshad read out the joint memorandum.

The full text of the joint memorandum appears below. Amer also called for the Minister for Home Affairs to actually visit the Kamunting Detention Centre and other places of detention and meet the detainees and see first-hand the conditions of their detention. He urged the Minister not simply to sign detention orders from the comfort of his office. Amer, in a subsequent response to a question from a journalist, decried attempts to favourably compare Kamunting as against Guantanamo Bay. He instead called for Malaysia to compare itself with countries where there was no preventive detention without trial.

Three relatives of ISA detainees also spoke of their experiences. Puan Norlaila Othman (wife of Mat Sah bin Mohammed Satray) spoke of the privations her husband had to endure as a result of her efforts to free him, including solitary confinement. She referred to the emotional blackmail that special branch officers engaged in, seeking to discourage her from visiting her husband with the threat of prolonging his detention if she insisted on doing so, or if she insisted on speaking to the press. She bravely, and regardless of the consequences for her husband, called on the press to report fully on the ISA detainees and to honestly draw the nation’s attention to their plight. Puan Pushpaneela (wife of M. Manoharan), and V. Raidu (brother of V. Ganabatirau) recounted the pain, suffering and sense of loss their families had to endure in the last 4 months, as well as the lack of proper medical attention for detainees.

Charles Santiago (PR-Klang) spoke of his recent trip to Europe during which he had had the opportunity to speak to members of the European Parliament and the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the Finnish Parliament about Malaysia’s continued use of the ISA and other preventive detention laws. He reported that the members of the European Parliament with whom he spoke had agreed to bring the matter up to their respective governments and with the European Union in order for this issue to be addressed in the context of the EU-ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. The Free Trade Agreement includes provisions calling for mutual respect of human rights.

Datin Seri Dr. Wan Azizah, in her remarks, said that she too understood the suffering that the detainees’ families had to endure. She recounted instances when she had made the journey to Kamunting Detention Centre to visit her husband Dato’ Seri Anwar only to be denied permission to do so when she arrived. She pointed out that some detainees were now being held for close to 8 years. She too called on the Minister for Home Affairs to look into the conditions of detainees, and said that she would continue to work with her colleagues in the Opposition to persuade the Government to abolish the ISA. She pointed out that Malaysians surely did not want to endorse or be a party to such cruel legislation. She then launched the “Malaysia Bebas Dari ISA” badge as part of the campaign.

At the end of the press conference the Leader of the Opposition then proceeded to distribute the badges to fellow members of Parliament in and around the lobby of Parliament. Some gladly received them and allowed badges to be pinned on them, while others merely received the badges and left it on the table or put it in their pockets.


I. Introduction

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) and the Human Rights Committee of the Malaysian Bar Council (HRC) welcomes the convening of the 12th Parliament on 28 April 2008. It is evident from this that we continue to live in a democracy, one which is maturing and functioning though not necessarily perfect. It is also evident that the peoples of Malaysia have democratically elected a Government which is now expected to administer the country in accordance with core democratic ideals such as upholding the rule of law, protecting human rights, and effectively maintaining the separation of powers between the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary.

GMI-HRC reiterates the aspirations of the peoples of Malaysia who wish to live in a peaceful and safe Malaysia, yet at the same time, who wish to ensure that the rights of every person are fully and equally respected.

II. Purpose

GMI-HRC wishes to take the opportunity at the start of the 12th Parliament to bring to the attention of all Members of Parliament as follows.

1. Malaysia’s Vision 2020 envisages Malaysia as a developed nation by the year 2020 including fostering and developing a mature, progressive democratic and ethical society imbued with the highest of ethical standards.

2. Malaysia is presently a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council and is obliged to uphold the underlying values of international human rights law as set out in, among others, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 (UDHR) and International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights 1976 (ICCPR).

3. It is internationally recognised that the detention of persons without trial is in violation of the rule of law, human rights and the principles of democratic Government. Among other reasons, detention without trial violates a person’s right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and his/her right to a free, fair and public trial where he/she may be defended.

4. While the Government is obliged to ensure peace and security of the country, it is not permitted to do so at the expense of basic principles of human rights and natural justice.

5. Despite wide-ranging penal legislation, Malaysia continues to invoke laws which allow for the detention of persons without trial, such as the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA), Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 (EO) and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 (DDSPMA).

6. In 2003, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) in its report “Review of the Internal Security Act 1960” (Report) recommended the repeal of the ISA. The Report stated:

The power to detain a person without trial goes against human rights principles in that the person detained, is denied the right to personal liberty, the right to a fair trial and the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty. These rights are enshrined in articles 3, 10 and 11(1) of the UDHR (at page 94 of the Report).

The Report concluded:

Therefore, by considering the law and practice in relation to the ISA to date from the human rights perspective and in light of the four human rights principles on the limitation of the rights of a person (legitimate aim, absolute necessity, proportionality and adequate safeguards), it is clear that the balance between national security and human rights under the ISA is currently disproportionately weighted in favour of national security (at page 99 of the Report).

7. Similar arguments for the repeal of the ISA apply to other laws which provide for detention of persons without trial.

III. GMI-HRC’s Requests

Given the above, GMI-HRC respectfully calls on the Government of Malaysia as follows:

• To immediately and unconditionally release all persons presently detained without trial, and where appropriate, to prosecute them in a public and fair trial.

• To immediately repeal all laws which allow for the detention of persons without trial such as the ISA, EO and DDSPMA.

• To immediately close all detention camps where detainees are held without trial.

• To apologise to all detainees (past and present) held without trial, and offer compensation for the suffering, anguish and injustice caused to them.

• To investigate all complaints and cases of victimisation, torture, cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment, tyranny and abuse of power in relation to past and present detentions, and to prosecute the perpetrators including but not limited to establishing a Royal Commission of Inquiry for the said purpose.

• To immediately debate SUHAKAM’s reports in Parliament and to implement its recommendations.

• To commit to a monthly dialogue session on human rights issues with representatives of SUHAKAM, Attorney-General’s Chambers, non-governmental organisations, human rights groups and the Bar Council.

• To recognise, respect and restore the inherent powers of the Judiciary as an independent check on the powers of the Executive and police including repealing laws which oust the judicial review of Executive actions or decisions.

GMI-HRC strongly urges all Members of Parliament to support the initiatives and aims set out above including lobbying the Government of Malaysia on the same, and in the meantime, to regularly conduct visits and fact-finding missions to all detention camps where detainees are held without trial.


Daripada Abu Umarah iaitu al-Bara' bin 'Azib radhiallahu anhuma, katanya: "Kita semua diperintah oleh Rasulullah s.a.w. untuk melakukan tujuh perkara, iaitu meninjau orang sakit, mengikuti janazah, menentasymitkan orang yang bersin, menolong orang yang lemah, membantu orang yang teraniaya, meratakan salam dan melaksanakan sumpah."

(Muttafaq 'alaih)

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