Friday, April 4, 2014

Suhakam: Gov't must guarantee PCA last resort

The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) is seeking a legal guarantee that the government will only use the recently gazetted Prevention of Crime Act (amendment and extension, PCA) 2013 as a "last resort".

Despite criticisms from the commission as well as civil society over provisions in the Act that allow for detention without trial, the government still gazetted it on April 2 insisting that the Act will only be used as a last resort.

"The commission deems it important for the government to translate such assurances into legal provisions towards ensuring an effective implementation of the Act as well as rehabilitation for the detainees by relevant authorities," Suhakam chairperson Hasmy Agam (right) said in a statement today.

However, he did not elaborate on these legal provisions.

Hasmy also reiterated the commission's disappointment of not being consulted regarding the law as well as  its "non-compliance with fundamental human rights principles".

"The commission reiterates its concerns over the provisions which allow for detention without trial and the denial of an individual’s rights to legal representation and to a fair trial, as well as (the denial of the right) to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to the law in a public trial," he said.

Hasmy also called the Act "retrogressive" in character.

The PCA Bill was controversially passed in Parliament late last year despite vociferous opposition by Pakatan Rakyat MPs, in a rushed session lasting till midnight.

The Bill was a result of months of Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claiming that crime rate in the country had spiked for lack of preventive laws.

The law contradicts Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's claims to democratic reforms when he announced in 2011 intentions to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) and other laws that provide for detention without trial.

~ Malaysiakini

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