KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — Powers to refuse inquests for deaths in “security areas” declared via the National Security Council Bill would affect security personnel in the same was as civilians, a lawmaker said yesterday.
Amanah MP and lawyer Hanipa Maidin noted Section 35 of the proposed law conferred such powers to the magistrates court, which he said could “victimise” security personnel active in such areas.
He gave the example of a policeman whose insubordination prompts a superior to shoot him, and said the officer may not face an inquest if this occurs within a “security area”.
“So even with this Bill, [security personnel] are also going to be the victim… you are supposed to enforce it, but there will be no protection because the council is not going to defend you,” he told a packed hall at The Club in Bandar Utama yesterday night, where a public forum entitled ‘“NSC Act: To Protect or To Oppress?” was held.
Section 35 of the Bill allows for the dispensation of death inquiries or inquests in security areas where it is satisfied that such deaths have occurred due to operations undertaken by security forces— and this is also a concern.
National Human Rights Society chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan described the powers within the NSC Bill as frightening, saying it would absolve security personnel of any deaths they cause to prevent any crime including, for example, petty theft.
The law proposes to allow the NSC — which would be chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak — to take command of the country’s security forces and impose strict policing of areas deemed to face security risks.
According to the Bill, the NSC’s jurisdiction takes effect once the prime minister designates a location as a “security area” — a status that is valid for six months at a time, subject to renewal by the prime minister.
Once the NSC takes over control of a security area, security forces will have the right to search or arrest without warrant any individual “found committing, alleged to have committed, or reasonably suspected of having committed any offence under written laws in the security area”.
The Bill also seeks to empower security forces to arrest without warrant and take action against those who do not abide by an evacuation order from a security area, and also carry out searches of any vehicle or premise within the security area without a warrant.