Malaysiakini Letter

Lifting moratorium on repressive laws a step backwards

Amnesty International Malaysia  |  Published:

LETTER | Amnesty International Malaysia calls on the government to reinstate the moratoria on four restrictive and repressive pieces of legislation.

The decision to lift the moratoria is disappointing, considering that many in the new government have been abused by some of these acts when they were in opposition. 

We call on the government to immediately cease the use of the Prevention of Crime Act (Amendment) 2017 (Poca), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), Sedition Act 1948, and Security Offences Special Measures Act 2012 (Sosma).

This latest move indicates a recent trend of backtracking on human rights promises made by the new government now that they are in power. 

By no means does Amnesty International Malaysia downplay the seriousness of the violence that transpired on Nov 26 and 27. We call on the Malaysian government to bring those responsible for violence to justice in thorough and transparent investigations and fair trials.

However, the laws being reinstated are fraught with worrying provisions that include allowing the authorities to arbitrarily arrest and detain individuals that in turn places detainees at the risk of torture and other ill-treatment and denying them timely access to the courts. 

There are already other laws in the Malaysian judicial system that are sufficient to bring the perpetrators to justice, including provisions in the Penal Code.

Amnesty International Malaysia calls on the government to reinstate the moratoria on POCA, POTA, SOSMA and the Sedition Act. 

We also call upon the government to expedite its efforts in ratifying the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to ensure torture-free detentions and fair trials in Malaysia as well as to promote freedom of expression.

The government must also take the opportunity to reconsider its decision to not ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd). 

The Icerd, along with other international conventions, will guide the government on how to deal with violent episodes and hate speech in ways that comply with international law and standards. 

The ratification of Icerd and the domestic laws that will be enacted as a result, will also ensure that the authorities do not resort to laws that are restrictive and open to abuse.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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