Are more U-turns on the way, rights lawyers ask after govt says no review of Sosma

Lawyers for Liberty questions PH’s stand on the matter following its objection to Sosma during its time in the opposition.

(MalaysiaNow) – Lawyers group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today slammed the Pakatan Harapan (PH)-led government for what it described as a “U-turn” on the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, following remarks by Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution that the administration has no intention of reviewing the controversial law.

In a statement, LFL director Zaid Malek said the government’s backtracking on the matter, less than a week after it took office, was a matter of “grave concern”.

“Are there more such U-turns and back-slidings on the rule of law and human rights to come?” he added.

Saifuddin, speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur on Dec 13, had defended the law popularly known as Sosma, saying it allows the court process to take place.

He compared this to its predecessor, the Internal Security Act, saying that under Sosma, the period is “only 28 days”.

Zaid however said that this remained “an unreasonably long period of detention without judicial oversight”, adding that detainees who are later charged with offences might also be detained indefinitely pending trial.

“Even if they are acquitted at trial, they can be further detained pending appeals at the Court of Appeal or Federal Court,” he added.

“In short, persons arrested under Sosma may spend many long years in jail although they are finally found innocent and acquitted.”

He also questioned Saifuddin’s claim that arrests under Sosma are only done on “reliable intelligence and evidence”.

“If that is truly the case, then there is no need for a lengthy detention and the offenders should be charged in court immediately,” he said.

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