Detention Without Trial in Malaysia: 50 years of the Internal Security Act Conference

Saturday, 2nd April 201, Amnesty International, London

The Solicitors International Human Rights Group and the Abolish ISA Movement UK invite you to participate in a one day conference in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of Malaysia’s Internal Security Act.

Date: Saturday 2nd April 2011
Venue: Amnesty International, 17-25 New Inn Yard, City of London

  Nearest Tube: Old Street

Time: 9.30 – 5 pm
Registration from 9.30am,conference starts sharply at 10am

Entrance: £5 (light refreshments provided but attendees requested to organise own lunch)

The Internal Security Act (ISA) was originally enacted in 1960 and intended as a temporary measure to fight a communist insurgency. However, over the last 50 years, the Malaysian Government stands
accused of using the Act as a tool for political repression evidenced by the growing persecution of political opposition leaders, human rights activists, lawyers, journalists, and ordinary civilians. Under the ISA a person can be detained for upto sixty days without warrant, trial or access to legal counsel. A warrant can then be renewed every
2 years at the pleasure of the Home Minister, thus, effectively allowing for indefinite detention without trial. Since its enactment it has been estimated that over 10,000 people have been detained; the vast majority of whom have never been charged in a court of law. The longest serving detainee spent 16 years in arbitrary detention. In June 2010, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention conducted a mission to Malaysia which concluded that, in conformity with article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the ISA should be abolished or at least amended.

The Malaysian Government continues to argue that the ISA still has relevance in modern Malaysia because it is a shield against racial hostility in a multiethnic society and provides an answer to the multifaceted threats posed by international and regional terrorism. The conference aims to explore the complexities of this debate.

Speakers include previous detainees Kua Kia Soong (Operasi Lalang detainee), Raja Petra Kamarudin (Reformasi detainee), P. Uthayakumar (Hindraf detainee) and Tan Wah Piow from Singapore who will provide insight into the use of the ISA in Singapore. We will also see personal accounts and insights from the wives and families of previous
detainees to help us understand further the true human cost the ISA exerts on the lives of ordinary people in Malaysia. President of the Abolish ISA Movement, Syed Ibrahim will be joining us to open the conference and speak about AIMs work in campaigning for an end to arbitrary detention without trial in Malaysia.

We will also be joined by legal experts from the UK and SIHRG who will present SUHAKAM’s recommendations from 2004 and explore viable legal alternatives to the ISA. Respected human rights lawyer Malik Imtiaz will speak to us via Skype video link on ‘Habeas Corpus and the ISA’ following the landmark victory where he secured the release of Raja Petra in 2008 and we will also be joined by previous Law Minister Dato Zaid Ibrahim who will speak about Malaysian Law and the ISA. Brad Adams from Human Rights Watch will present important work from HRW in terms of anti-ISA campaigning and there will be a  Q&A panel in the afternoon to help us explore what we can all do next to bring an end to arbitrary detention without trial, and the torture that often comes with it, in Malaysia. There will also be an ‘Arts Against the ISA’ session in the afternoon with an ISA inspired Wayang Kulit.

An invitation has also been extended to the Malaysian government to engage in the forum.

Please join us for what promises to be an exciting and engaging conference.