KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act or Sosma violates fundamental liberties and must be abolished, lawyer and political aide Syahredzan Johan said today.
The political secretary to DAP’s Lim Kit Siang acknowledged arguments that the preventive detention law was needed to combat terrorism-related offences, such as those two DAP assemblymen were charged with yesterday, but said these did not consider the ramifications to the accused when it is invoked.
Sosma is not used to prosecute directly but rather is invoked in conjunction with another law to allow police to hold suspects for up to 28 days at a time, during which their rights may be severely curtailed.
The invocation of Sosma precludes bail except in special circumstances and even a court decision clearing the detainee of the charge will not guarantee his release from its preventive detention.
“This means the accused is ‘punished’ the entire length of the legal process, which violates the principle that a person must not be punished until proven guilty,” he said in a statement.
The law also has provisions that weaken safeguards under the Evidence Act, such as allowing the admissibility of statements extracted in any form and time from the suspects, the validity of which may not be later challenged in court.
Syahredzan said other glaring issues with Sosma include lopsided provisions such as the ability to use anonymous witnesses and the admissibility of any evidence regardless of whether they were legally obtained.
He argued that the culmination of these prevented any opportunity for a fair trial once Sosma is invoked.
“Sosma is a law that is against the principle of justice. The government is urged to repeal the law and to replace it with another, more just piece of legislation if this is needed,” he said.
DAP’s Seremban Jaya assemblyman P. Gunasekaran and Gadek assemblyman G. Saminathan were among 10 people charged separately yesterday with supporting or possessing material linked to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) group.
They were all detained using Sosma and were denied bail yesterday as a result.
Lim previously urged the Pakatan Harapan government to repeal Sosma after saying this was contained in the pact’s election manifesto.
Since then, however, other coalition leaders — most notably Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is the home minister — have come out to dispute this by saying PH only pledged to review the law the Najib administration introduced.