PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) says the police must be fully transparent and held accountable for every arrest and detention, following reports that 10 men are being held under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
The NGO said while it did not dispute the duty of the police to prevent crime and uphold law and order, it was “extremely concerned” over the manner in which the arrests were made.
“What is the standard operating procedure (SOP) to inform detainees and family members when affecting arrest?
“Shouldn’t family members have a right to be informed of basic details like the grounds of arrests, place of detention, the police station and investigating officer in charge, and his or her contact number?” LFL executive director Eric Paulsen said in a statement today.
He added that if a remand was obtained, as was the norm, family members should be informed of the remand extension and whether they were required to post court or police bail.
Likewise, if the detainee was rearrested, further detained or taken to other police stations for investigations of other alleged offences or detained under security laws such as Sosma, family members should be informed and given all necessary police documents so they can seek legal advice.
This was after nine families lodged missing persons and unlawful arrest reports at IPD Klang Selatan on July 18 over 10 family members whom they said had been arrested by the police.
They added that they had received no news as to why the men were arrested and where they were being held.
Although police there were unable to confirm the arrests, the families were told in a special briefing the next day that the men were being held under Sosma.
Paulsen said the family members of those detained had legitimate grounds to be concerned given the “extraordinary” number of deaths in police custody recently.
“Questions must surely be asked on why these arrests have been shrouded with secrecy and why the police have been unable to provide the family members with the necessary information when there are clear procedures to notify the next of kin on any Sosma arrests.”
He also hit out at the police for advising several family members against engaging lawyers to represent those who had been detained.
He said this was “unacceptable behaviour”, pointing out that the right to legal counsel is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
He called on the police to comply with the law and their own SOP and to be fully accountable for every arrest they make.