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NST report justifying ISA, says group

 | September 13, 2012

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA expresses concern over newpaper article's connotation to the public.

KUALA LUMPUR: A group calling for an end to the Internal Security Act (ISA) today slammed an article in the New Straits Times for allegedly justifying the ISA’s continued existence.

The article, ‘Making millions from behind bars’, published on Monday claimed that several ISA detainees held for human trafficking were “laying the groundwork for the resumption of their underground activities.”

It said the detainees were not concerned that their conversations with lieutenants outside the camp were being monitored, as they knew their detention cannot be extended due to ISA’s abolishment.

“GMI believes that this matter was deliberately raised to show the benefits of ISA as a pre-emptive law to prevent crime,” Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) chairman Ibrahim Syed Noh said at a press conference.

He pointed out several “highly questionable” points in the article, in particular the phone calls made between detainees and their contacts.

“How could a fully monitored telephone be used to facilitate criminal activities when every suspected ‘high risk’ phone call will be terminated by detention officers?

“[This is] coupled by the fact that only calls to family members are allowed,” he said, adding that this was revealed by a former ISA detainee.

He also claimed that every letter sent out to the detainees would be filtered and screened by camp officers.

“GMI is gravely concerned with the statement reported by NST…the report has cast guilt on ISA detainees despite the fact that they have not been tried in court,” he said.

‘Failed rehabilitation methods?’

Syed Ibrahim also said that if the NST report was true, it indicates that ‘rehabilitation’ measures taken by the detention officers – which he claimed included physical torture, mental abuse and solitary confinement – had “pathetically failed to serve its purpose.”

“Was the officer (in the article) trying to say that security at detention camp is very weak?” he asked.

“Or could this be just fiction aimed at justifying the ISA in retrospect and at the same time lobby to strengthen the new ISA?”

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had announced the repeal of the ISA exactly a year ago following pressure from the public and civil groups.

It was later replaced with the Security Offences Act, which opponents have labelled as “the New ISA”.

But when tabling the new bill, Najib said that it would not affect those currently detained under ISA.

Syed Ibrahim said that while GMI stresses that the nation’s security must not be compromised, investigations and prosecutions of criminals must be in accordance to the law.

“The security of our nation is top priority, but it needs to be achieved without jeopardising justice and humanity,” he said.

He urged the government to release the remaining 30 detainees and to investigate all complaints of torture and inhumane treatment.


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