Press Statement: 30th October 2009
Minister: You Should Stop your Drama and Abolish the ISA Now!
Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) opposes the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein’s calls for amendments to the draconian Internal Security Act (ISA). GMI is a movement with 83 organisation members that has been campaigning for the abolishment of the ISA since 2001. We would like to call on the government to stop giving excuses in delaying the process for the abolishment of ISA. The Home Minister’s decision goes against the wish of the majority of people of Malaysia to see the barbaric and uncivilized law abolished. This was demonstrated by the people of Malaysia in the 12th General Elections where one of the major factors for BN’s big loss was due to the violations of human rights, rule of law and justice brought by ISA. The Anti-ISA rally on August 1st was also a clear indicator that the people do not see the need for ISA and believes that the government should not just review the ISA but abolish it.
GMI would like to raise several questions to the Home Minister. First of all, the Home Minister only consulted with majority NGOs that are seen to be in favor with government. Why didn’t the Home Minister consult with GMI or other civil society organisations such as SUARAM that have been campaigning for the abolishment of the ISA for almost 20 years? What about consulting ex-ISA detainees and their family members? As a minister, why does he refuse to hear comments from GMI, SUARAM and others? Is the government sincere in making changes to the ISA or is it just another drama by the government to capture the people’s heart? Why are the amendments expedited in such a hasty manner?
GMI recognises the obligation of the Malaysian government to protect its population from terrorist attacks and to bring those responsible for engaging in such attacks to justice. But the Malaysian government has yet to demonstrate that any of the individuals it has detained have actually engaged in any such activity. We call on the Malaysian government to abide by its obligations under International Human Rights standards when engaging in counter terrorism activity and also to establish a long term plan for Malaysia when developing mechanisms for combating terrorism while ensuring protection of human rights and the rights of the accused.
GMI would like to remind the government again that the ISA which was enacted in 1960, has been widely used against those who commit acts deemed to be “prejudicial to the security of Malaysia ”, or threatening the “maintenance of essential services” or “economic life”. These vaguely defined security concerns have led to the frequent use of the law against people peacefully expressing their religious and political beliefs, as well as a number of human rights defenders. Furthermore, in 2003, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considered that administrative detention on such grounds, even when in conformity with a domestic law, constitutes a violation of the right to a fair trial by an independent and impartial judicial authority. It consequently considered that the detention under such conditions was arbitrary.
Finally, GMI calls on the government to:
1. Abolish the ISA and all the other laws which allow detention without trial such as Emergency Ordinance (EO) and the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA);
2. Immediately press charges in court or release all the individuals currently held under the ISA;
3. Close the Kamunting detention camp; and
4. Sign and ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) and begin the process of repealing all the domestic laws that contradict human rights principles including the ISA to conform to these international instruments.
Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh,