US must release two Malaysians in Guantanamo

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Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet) is shocked to find out that two Malaysians have been subjected to detention without trial for allegedly over 10 years in the United States of America’s infamous detention facility in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.(FMT News, Jan 7, 2017).

Mohd Farik Amin and Mohammed Nazir Lep have been allegedly detained for about 10 years and four months, for allegedly being involved in the 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, which killed 12 and injured 150 others.

Article 10 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights clearly states that, “Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.” Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

It must be pointed out that these two Malaysians were amongst the Guantanamo detainees who had been recommended for prosecution by the Guantánamo Review Task Force as of January 2010. But sadly, after almost seven years, they have yet to be granted their fundamental right to a fair trial.

It is said that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility is controlled by the US military, but not actually part of the country and therefore not subject to US laws. There have been allegations of torture, and also deaths in custody at this detention facility. President Barack Obama, when he became president, promised that he will close down this facility, but alas it still remains open.

Madpet is of the opinion that all persons currently detained without trial should be immediately and unconditionally released. It is unconscionable and unjust for persons to be detained without trial, and in the case of these two Malaysians, it has been more than 10 years.

Malaysia should have been protesting the detention without trial of any Malaysians, who have been denied their right to fair trial. The failure to come to the aid and assistance is a failure on the part of the government.

Malaysia should certainly not support the justification forwarded by foreign nations to detain without trial, and/or to torture Malaysians. As such, it is most sad that the Malaysian police seems to be now justifying the 10 year plus detention without trial of Malaysians by the US.

Madpet is also disturbed by statements allegedly made by Malaysian police counter-terrorism chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay, which may be an attempt to convince the Malaysian public the reason for the detention without trial, and maybe also the failure of the Malaysian government to come to the assistance of these Malaysians overseas - victims of denial of right to a fair trial.

Amongst others, Ayob Khan is quoted saying, “They are high-ranking members with a great deal of influence. There is a high possibility they might return to their militant ways and join other groups, especially the Islamic State.”

It may of interest to know whether the Malaysian police’s view is based on their own investigation, or simply an acceptance of what the US detaining authority told them. Are there even attempts by the Indonesian government to get these two Malaysians to be charged and tried in Indonesian courts for their alleged crimes related to the bombing in Jakarta?

The police officers’, public prosecutors’ or government’s belief in the guilt or innocence is irrelevant because no one is guilty unless tried and convicted after a fair trial.

Continued detention in Malaysia is not acceptable

If they have broken laws in Malaysia, then they must forthwith be brought back, charged in court and tried. If they have not broken any Malaysian laws, then, of course, Malaysia will have no justification to arrest or detain them on return in Malaysia. Continued detention without trial in Malaysia is not acceptable.

The said media report indicated that “...Ayob said that if the two were transferred back to Malaysia, they would be placed in the de-radicalisation programme, which has been proven to be effective...” There also was a similar suggestion made earlier “...last September, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Nazir might be transferred to Malaysia but he would have to continue the de-radicalisation programme in jail...”

Madpet is extremely concerned about what is meant by this “de-radicalisation programme in jail”, and hope that Malaysia is not proposing detention under trial under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca)), Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota) or some other detention-without-trial law.

This is unacceptable and Madpet reiterates that Malaysia must abolish all detention without trial laws, and immediately release all those currently being detained and/or being subjected to the draconian Poca and/or Pota.

Therefore, Madpet

  • Urges the United States of America (USA) to immediately release Mohd Farik Amin, Mohammed Nazir Lep, any other Malaysians and others currently being detained without trial in Guantanamo Bay Detention facility and detention facilities in or under the control of the USA.
     
  • Urges the Malaysian government to do the needful to ensure that human rights of Malaysians, including the right to fair trial, of those currently being held in Guantanamo Bay Detention facility and detention facilities overseas are always respected and protected;
     
  • Reiterates our urging on Malaysia to immediately repeal the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), any such detention-without-trial laws; and
     
  • Reiterates our urging for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons currently being detained/restricted under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca) or any such detention-without-trial laws.

CHARLES HECTOR is coordinator, Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet).

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