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‘When scrapping Sosma, others, ensure laws follow UN rights standards’

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The government should consult various stakeholders when abolishing or amending draconian laws of the previous BN government, to bring such laws in line with international human rights standards.

Civil rights lawyer Syahredzan Johan in a statement today noted how laws such as the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) had been drafted “without being in line with international norms”.

“The government is urged to get feedback and assistance from various stakeholders such as the Bar Council, Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) and civil society organisations when they want to draft any laws.

“Particularly those dealing with terrorism, to ensure the laws concerned adhere properly to international standards, uphold human rights and is in line with the rule of law,” he said.

Syahredzan said while Sosma had been enacted to deal with crimes related to security and terrorism, which was needed, it had failed to balance the need to counter the need to tackle aggression with the rights of suspects who had yet been convicted by any court.

He cited such “draconian” aspects of Sosma such as the 28-day detention of suspects without the need for any court order, denial of legal representation and pressure to admit guilt.

There were also provisions that went against the principles of rule of evidence, which is the pillar of criminal justice, he said.

Sosma, said Syahredzan, was also open to abuse.

“When Sosma was passed, the government gave its guarantee that it would not be used for political ends.

“However, they went back on their guarantee when it was used against individuals such as (1MDB complainant) Khairuddin Abu Hassan, (lawyer) Mathias Chang and (then Bersih chairperson) Maria Chin Abdullah,” he said.

The lawyer pointed to the UN security council resolution 2178 (2014) on guidelines for counter-terrorism laws, as a reference point for the new government in their task to undo unfair BN-era laws.

Syahredzan was commenting on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement yesterday reiterating his administration was committed to abolishing Sosma.

“(Former premier) Najib Razak’s law allows a person to be arrested and not to be taken to court, and if that person died, there will be neither inquiry nor action taken against those who killed him.

“That is the law passed by Najib and we will repeal that law,” he was reported by Bernama as saying.

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