Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Hisham wrong about Patriot Act, says Suhakam

Hisham wrong about Patriot Act, says Suhakam

UPDATED @ 03:48:48 PM 22-11-2011
November 22, 2011
Malaysian Insider

Hishammuddin yesterday said the ISA’s replacement will still allow for detention without trial. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein misunderstands the reason for the United States’ preventive detention clause in its Patriot Act, Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) said today.

Commissioner Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah pointed out that the US security law does not allow for detention without trial, disputing the minister’s citation yesterday.

“That’s why Hishammuddin’s statement that the new law replacing the Internal Security Act (ISA) is the equivalent of the Patriot Act is not true,” he said.

Yesterday, the minister announced that the replacement for the much-criticised ISA next year will still include a clause that will allow the police to detain a person without trial.

Hishammuddin had said the preventive measure was needed to combat militant movements and terrorism, and cited as examples the Patriot Act in the United States as well as the Anti-Terror Acts in Britain and Australia.

The home minister and the national human rights watchdog have been engages in a verbal exchange following the arrest of seven Malaysians and six foreigners in Sabah last week, for what the police allege to be an attempt to revive a militant movement in the state.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam issued a strongly-worded statement soon after, saying the arrests went against Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise to repeal the archaic security law.

“What we want is to see them taken to court and tried and not detained without trial under ISA,” Muhammad Sha’ani said today, backing Hasmy.

He denied Suhakam was pushing for the suspected militants to be freed.

In his Malaysia Day address, Prime Minister Najib had promised a raft of reforms including repealing the ISA to give the public more freedom.

But the prime minister later said the repeal of the law that allows for preventive detention without trial will only take place next year after two new laws are drafted to replace it.

Najib’s promises of reforms, which also include doing away with annual permits for print media and a parliamentary panel on electoral improvements, came after widespread condemnation over the crackdown on the July 9 Bersih 2.0 rally for electoral reforms.

Hishammuddin’s announcement yesterday, however, has caused Najib’s reforms pledge to labelled a rebranding exercise by Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers, who said the retention of the ISA’s preventive arrest powers meant it was simply a case of “old wine in a new bottle.”

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