PETALING JAYA: A former PKR MP has called out home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail for defending the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).
Former Petaling Jaya MP Maria Chin Abdullah, who was detained for 10 days under Sosma in 2016, said Saifuddin “had forgotten” that under Section 30 of the act, detainees could be kept in prison until all court trials and appeals are concluded.
“As a result, we have prisoners detained for (up to) 10 years. This breeds and institutionalises injustice,” she said in a statement.
“I have no qualms about having to curb terrorism, but unfortunately Sosma processes undermine human rights.
“It is not only used for terrorism but against alleged undocumented migrants, gangsters and even political opponents, despite previous home ministers’ guarantees that Sosma will not be used for political purposes.”
Saifuddin today indicated that the act would not be reviewed, stating that “the law allows the court process to take place”.
He said this was in contrast to the now-defunct Internal Security Act (ISA), which allowed for detention without trial, and the emergency ordinances (EO) which allowed for detention of up to 60 days.
Sub-section 4(5) of Sosma enables the police to detain a person suspected of being involved in terrorist activities for a period not exceeding 28 days for investigations.
Saifuddin said that at the end of the 28 days, there will only be two recommendations for detainees “which is either to charge them in court or to free them”.
In response, Maria said the act provided a “lazy way” for investigations to be conducted since individuals were detained before any information was gathered.
Maria said those accused of terrorist acts or other serious offences should be charged and tried according to the regular rules of evidence and procedure to ensure their right to a fair trial.
“Justice will not be delivered if the present new authorities continue to justify using legal tools that permit denial of fair and open trials,” she said.
Maria, a former Bersih chairman, was arrested on Nov 18, 2016 – a day before the Bersih 5 rally – and held in solitary confinement in a 15 feet by 8 feet windowless cell. A report in the Malay Mail said she was denied a bed and described the detention as “ISA-style”.
In 2019, the government agreed to pay Maria RM25,000 in damages and RM5,000 in costs. Her lawyer, Gurdial Singh Nijar, said that the settlement was agreed without admission of liability.
In July, the Dewan Rakyat passed a five-year extension to a provision in Sosma that allowed for a 28-day pre-trial detention.