In its annual report, the human rights commission said the new law must give more space to human rights, particularly to freedom of assembly.
The human rights body’s chief commissioner, Hasmy Agam, said that the provisions in the new law were not in tandem with suggestions given by stakeholders, including Suhakam.
“While we laud Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on his reforms to give greater prominence to civil liberties, it’s important for the government to meet international human rights standards,” Hasmy said.
The government tabled the Peaceful Assembly Act in December last year in line with the government’s political transformation plan announced by Najib on Malaysia Day.
Under the new law, a rally organiser would only be required to give a minimum notice of 10 days before holding the rally. Street protests are outlawed.
Previously, organisers have to obtain a police permit before holding a rally under Section 27 of the Police Act.
Hasmy said the government should ensure that the enforcement of the new law complies with the principles of freedom of assembly.
“The authorities must open avenues for public discourse on questionable provisions in the new Act,” said Hasmy.
The report also pointed out that more than 1,000 were detained, including minors, under the soon- to-be repealed draconian laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA), Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act.
“We believe that the Penal Code could be used to detain them instead. This will ensure that the rights of the detainees, especially the young ones, are protected by both domestic and international treaties,” he said.
Early this month, the government tabled the Security Offences (Special Measures) Bill 2012 at the Dewan Rakyat to replace the ISA.
Under the new law, the police could only detain an individual for a maximum of 28 days, unlike the 60 days allowed under the ISA.
The Bill would also allow the detainee to seek judicial review of the detention.
However, even if acquitted, the detainee could still be held – by an oral application of the public prosecutor – until all the appeal process is exhausted.
Security Offences in, ISA on way out