THE Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has called on the government to abolish the controversial Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA) and other draconian laws that allow detention without trial.
SUHAKAM chairman Rahmat Mohamad expressed concern that Section 4 of SOSMA, which permits the arrest, detention and extension of detention without judicial oversight, violates fundamental principles of human rights.
Suhakam’s attention was drawn to the matter after receiving a memorandum regarding a hunger strike staged by SOSMA detainees in Sungai Buloh and Alor Setar prisons on July 30.
Following this, SUHAKAM visited both prisons on Aug 1 to conduct interviews with the detainees and gather information about the hunger strike.
“The hunger strike was initiated due to detainees’ dissatisfaction with the prolonged and frequently postponed trials, as well as their objections to the charges under Section 130V(1) of the Penal Code, which relate to organised criminal groups.
“SUHAKAM will continue its investigation into the complaints and will collaborate with the detainees’ families and relevant government agencies to pursue further follow-up action,” he said in a statement.
The detainees at the Alor Setar prison ended their hunger strike on Aug 1, and those at the Sungai Buloh prison ended theirs the next day.
In total, there were 69 detainees involved—34 in Sungai Buloh and 35 in Alor Setar—some of whom had been held for up to three years without trial.
Criticism has been directed towards the Pakatan Harapan-led unity government for allegedly backtracking on SOSMA reform, despite its previous vocal stance on the matter.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail defended the law, stating that it allows the court process to proceed and is necessary for dealing with organised crime-related cases.
According to him, repealing the law was not listed in PH’s manifesto for the general election last year.
Although Saifuddin acknowledged the need to review certain provisions in SOSMA from “time to time”, he clarified that there are no immediate plans for amendments to the Act. – Aug 4, 2023
Main photo credit: The Vibes