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Friday, March 31, 2017

Reject Sosma extension and save Malaysia's reputation, says rights group



An international human rights group has urged Parliament to reject a proposal to extend the police's power of 28 days detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), saying its use has given the country a bad name abroad.
“Since 2012, Malaysian authorities have repeatedly used the security offenses law to … [detain] outspoken activists without charge,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
“Parliament should recognise the harm this detention provision causes both for ordinary Malaysians and for Malaysia’s reputation abroad, and reject it before further damage is done,” he said in a statement today.
This week the government tabled a motion in Parliament to extend Sosma's 28-day detention provision for another five years starting July 31, 2017.
Robertson said although Sosma states one is to be arrested “solely for his political belief or political activity”, the definition of “political activity” is narrow, "leaving room for authorities to arrest and detain people for other forms of peaceful political activity".
He cited cases of Sosma being used on government critics such as former Batu Kawan Umno vice-chief Khairuddin Abu Hassan on September 18, 2015 for pursuing the 1MDB scandal, and Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah on November 18, 2016 on allegations of having received funds from philanthropist George Soros.

"(To date) she has not been charged with any crime," said Robertson.
He also cited the use of Sosma to detain student Siti Noor Aishah on March 13, 2016, for possessing 12 books that were considered terrorist material'.
She was rearrested after the High Court acquitted her of all charges.
“Malaysian officials evidently view Sosma as a shortcut to harass and silence human rights activists and anti-corruption campaigners with prolonged detention without charge,” Robertson said.
“Parliament should uphold basic rights and let these detention provisions lapse, then follow up with revisions or repeal of the entire abusive law.”- Mkini

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