Stop dithering and ditch Sosma now, group tells Pakatan

Sasidaran told Paktan that the laws it previously deemed oppressive have not become less so simply because it was now the ruling coaliton. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Sasidaran told Paktan that the laws it previously deemed oppressive have not become less so simply because it was now the ruling coaliton. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 — Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) reiterated today its call for the Pakatan Harapan government to abolish the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, or Sosma, and other oppressive laws.

LFL director Melissa Sasidaran said the backpedalling under the blanket excuse of national security and fighting terrorism was similar to the previous Barisan Nasional government.

“The current government surely needs no reminder of how Sosma was abused in the past including to target dissidents and the then-Opposition,” she said in a statement.

While acknowledging that national security and terrorism are legitimate concerns for any government, Sasidaran told PH that the laws it previously deemed oppressive have not become less so simply because it was now the ruling coaliton.

“A balance cannot be struck while oppressive laws like Sosma which promotes torture, oppression and other unlawful means to secure convictions at all cost are in place. This is too high of a price to pay for Malaysia Baharu that vows to uphold justice and human rights.

“Sosma is a procedural law that excludes fundamental safeguards found in the Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence Act and other laws, acting unfairly against the accused persons during the trial process,” she said.

Highlighting that ordinarily inadmissible evidence that may be obtained through torture or even fabrication is admissible in a Sosma trial, Sasidaran added the accused will not be able to challenge or cross-examine most of the evidence admitted under the Act.

“As it allows for a protected witness to give evidence in anonymity, this contravenes basic standards of fair trial. In short a trial under Sosma is fundamentally flawed as it allows for secrecy and questionable evidence against the accused persons which they cannot challenge.

“Sosma allows for a show trial that will almost inevitably lead to a conviction. This makes a mockery of the rule of law and our criminal justice system, with the Act falling far short of international standards of fair trial, a fundamental right that must be accorded to anyone facing a criminal charge,” she said.

Sasidaran said Malaysia cannot call itself a proper democracy while undemocratic and draconian laws remain.

She urged PH to honour its promise and abolish Sosma without delay.

During the launch of the National Registration Department Day in Putrajaya yesterday, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Act is still needed to counter terrorism activities in Malaysia.

He said without Sosma, perpetrators of terrorism will be free from the law and bring danger to the nation, as current laws in the country are inadequate.

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