KUALA LUMPUR: The maximum detention period of 28 days under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) will continue to be in force for a period of five years commencing July 31, 2017.
The matter was approved in the Dewan Rakyat late last night after a review of the implementation of sub-section 4(5) of the Act submitted by Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia announced that the motion was passed through a block vote of 93 for the amendment, and 77 against.
Nur Jazlan when winding up said the proposed extension under subsection 4 (5) of the Act was the first time it was done since the Act came into force on July 31, 2012.
He said sub-section 4(5) limited the implementation of the detention duration for a five-year period to avoid the perception that it would be abused by the police, as well as to create an element of check and balance in its enforcement.
According to him, the extension of the maximum 28-day detention was required to empower the Act that requires thorough investigations to be undertaken, primarily to obtain information and detect criminals still at large.
“The period will also help the police to carry out the investigation, and prosecution process in court, although in reality the police have 28 days to conduct an investigation, but implicitly the police only have a period of 21 days to investigate.
“This is because in the remaining seven days, the police have to submit the investigation papers which has been completed to the Attorney-General for further instructions,” he said.
He said if the maximum detention period was not extended, it was feared that the quality of police investigations would be affected due to haste, as the provision to carry out investigations under existing laws was only 24 hours.
“With the current advances in communication and multimedia, offenders who are released will take the opportunity to go into hiding or flee the country,” he said.
Sub-section 4(5) of Sosma provides power to the police to detain a person suspected of being involved in terrorist activities for a period not exceeding 28 days for investigations.
Sub-section 4(11) of Sosma states that sub-section 4(5) shall be reviewed every five years and shall cease to have effect when approved by both Houses of Parliament (Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara) not to extend it.
Nur Jazlan also informed the Dewan Rakyat that Sosma had seen the conviction of more than 50% of detainees in the past five years.
“A total of 989 people have been detained under Sosma from July 31, 2012 to Feb 22 this year. A total of 363 have been released and 139 are facing trial, while 502 people have been convicted,” he said.
Thus, he said, claims that Sosma had failed to curb terrorism were untrue.