Malaysia must scrap repressive new security law

Malaysian authorities should withdraw a proposed new security law that continues to deny key human rights, Amnesty International has said. If approved without key changes, the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act which would replace the Internal Security Act (ISA), will allow police to detain suspects incommunicado for 48 hours, increasing the risk of torture. The law also permits detention for up to 28 or 29 days without charge or access to the courts. “This new Act merely replaces one oppressive regime with another,” said Donna Guest, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Programme.”It allows for violations of human rights such as freedom from arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment, the right to privacy and to a fair trial.” The new Act allows the authorities to detain people and intercept communications without court approval and on the sole basis of “belief” or “consideration” that people may be involved in security-related offences. Accused people are also denied full access to “sensitive information”.”Malaysia must withdraw this proposed law and repeal all emergency legislation,” said Guest.”Instead, the authorities should rely on existing provisions in the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to tackle terrorism and other serious crimes.A draconian act first introduced in 1960, the ISA was used to imprison critics of the government and opposition politicians as well as suspected militants.In September 2011, Amnesty International welcomed Prime Minister Najib Razak’s announcement of his intention to repeal the ISA and replace it with new security legislation.