Court ruling gives hope to ISA opponents

Posted by SM Maulana

Rathi Ramanathan, The Sun

A High Court ruling on the case of an Internal Security Act detainee in October 2007 gives hope to those lobbying for the abolishment of the law which allows for detention without trial.In a public forum titled “ISA: Abolish or Review” in the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last night, Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreneevasan said: “The recent judgment has given us hope to pursue the removal of the ISA.”There are sufficient provisions under the Penal Code to charge terrorist suspects, yet we have been witnessing that the two-year detention given under ISA are being extended with no fresh reasons given. This has negatively impacted on the family of detainees.”In October, Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Datuk Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus awarded RM2.5 million damages to political activist Abdul Malek Hussein after ruling that his arrest and detention under the ISA were made in bad faith under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.The judge had added that the nature of the interrogation was clearly for a political purpose, and was not based on genuine concern for national security.Ambiga said the big award was in view of the torture that Abdul Malek was subjected to during detention.She said given the recent legal developments in cases where detention without trial is being challenged, “similarly Malaysia must also move forward in removing legal provisions for detention without trial in the Emergency and Public Ordinance and the Dangerous Drug 1995 and abolish the ISA which is being used to stifle dissent “.Last year, the US Supreme Court ruled that foreign detainees held in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba had the right to appeal to U.S. civilian courts to challenge their indefinite imprisonment without charges.The court specifically struck down a provision of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that denies Guantanamo detainees the right to file petitions to determine whether a prisoner is being held illegally.In the previous Parliament meeting, replying to

Lim Guan Eng (DAP–Bagan), who suggested that the ISA be abolished, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahimin had said the government had no intention to abolish the ISA and other laws deemed harsh by certain people.However, he said the government was open to enhancing and updating provisions under the ISA as well as other laws.Another speaker in the forum, Batu MP Tian Chua, who was an ISA detainee, said the ISA was a form of absolute power and the flexibility to hold detainees indefinitely suggests that there is no room for enhancing it, except to abolish it.”ISA is inefficient and ineffective with regards to the aim of preserving security. We would argue that in fact, the ISA removes the responsibility of the police to investigate, which is dangerous, ” he said.In the United States, detention without trial is permitted only for 14 days and in that time, the police have to investigate whether the detainee is in fact a threat to security.Other speakers in the forum were Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) chairman Ibrahim Syed Noh and Norlaila Othman, wife of an ISA detainee.A book titled “Dunia Tanpa Suami”, co-authored by three wives of of ISA detainees – Aliza jaafar, Norlaila Othman and Raha Hassan – was also launched in the forum.GMI is also organising an anti-ISA rally in Stadium Melawati, Shah Alam on June 28.

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