Suhakam says security laws being used to suppress political dissent

Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail, July 14, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng
Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail, July 14, 2016. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said today it is concerned that security laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) is being used for non-terrorism purposes and to suppress political dissent.

In a statement in conjunction with World Human Rights Day, Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail stressed that Malaysians should not arrested and detained for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

“In its short lifespan, security laws, in particular the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) has been applied for non-terrorism purposes. For this reason, Suhakam is concerned that preventive detention, terrorism and security laws are being used to suppress freedom of expression and political dissent,” he said.

“Suhakam is particularly concerned that although preventive detention is a rare exception, in practice it may become a rule, and used for purposes other than what it was enacted for,” Razali added.

The government has said that Sosma does not apply to acts of terrorism alone and has a wide definition, and that it may be applicable to anything which disturbs national security and sovereignty.

Police detained Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah on November 18 under Section 124C of the Penal Code that criminalises the attempt to commit activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, and invoked the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, allowing them to hold her without trial for up to 28 days.

She was released on November 28, after being held for 11 days.

Razali also said that a country’s success can be measured by how it treats marginalised communities such as the Orang Asli, and that in this respect, the government and authorities have to do much better.

“Policies purportedly aimed at the development of the economy or infrastructure to benefit the country have had serious negative effects on many Orang Asli groups.

Some Orang Asli have also been violently displaced from their traditional lands without their free, prior and informed consent, without satisfactory provisions for resettlement and without adequate compensation.

“As a result, they are denied their human rights and their means of livelihood. The Orang Asli who have sought to defend their lands in Kelantan have also been arrested and charged,” the Suhakam chairman said.

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