The police should focus on fighting crime with better intelligence and investigative work instead of relying on repressive laws, say human rights groups and lawyers.
BY EILEEN NG Published: 21 September 2014
They said the police force’s argument that repealing preventive detention laws would cause a rise in crime could not be justified as the crime rate has risen even with the use of such laws.
The latest law in question is the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) (Special Preventive Measures) 1985, which the inspector-general of police (IGP) had said was still needed to help police fight drug trafficking.
The law allows for up to 60 days of detention without trial for suspected drug traffickers and kingpins.
A more effective way to fight drug trafficking would be to increase police resources for intelligence and investigative work, said Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, the secretary-general of the Association for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).
“No to detention without trial does not mean going soft on crime. The current use of the legislation has not reduced drug trafficking or eliminated drug addiction.
“Stronger action on corruption and close monitoring of suspects are needed. Such powers are in place but manpower must be increased,” he said in a text message to The Malaysian Insider.
Detention without trial violates basic human rights and opens the door to potential custodial abuse by the authorities, Amnesty International Malaysia said.
Its executive director, Shamini Darshni, said the authorities should not compromise on human rights in the name of security.
“They should immediately revise or repeal any law that provides leeway for human rights violations to occur.
“Put it this way – if the Act has been effective in preventing crime, why have crime statistics risen? The existing legislation needs to be relooked, and through a human rights lens to ensure there is no room for abuse,” she said.
Criminal lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad concurred that drug cases were still on the rise.
“We have death penalty for drug trafficking, but do you see the number of drug trafficking cases going down?
“Look at the legislation before and after it was introduced, was there any changes in drug related offences? Has it been reduced tremendously?” he said.
IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar mocked a call by Suram for the Dangerous Drugs Act to be repealed. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 21, 2014.IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar mocked a call by Suram for the Dangerous Drugs Act to be repealed. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, September 21, 2014.On Friday, IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar mocked a call by human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) to repeal the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Using his Twitter handle @KBAB51, Khalid said: “SUARAM kata Akta Dadah Berbahaya perlu di mansuhkan,” (Suaram said the Dangerous Drugs Act should be repealed.)
“Wahhhh seronok lah pengedar2 dadah.” (Drug traffickers will be very happy.)
“Usha @PDRMsia membanteras Dadah akan terbantut!” (Police efforts to stamp out drug trafficking will be hampered.)
“@PDRMsia percaya Rakyat M’sia mahu PDRM banteras Dadah habis2 an.” (Police believe the rakyat want us to stamp out drug trafficking.)
“Kalau ADB di mansuhkan, PDRM nak guna apa?” (If the DDA is repealed, what are the police going to use?) Khalid tweeted.
Suaram on Friday demanded an end to the act because of its detention without trial clause, similar to the now repealed Internal Security Act 1960 and Emergency Ordinance 1969.
Suaram executive director Yap Swee Seng had said that under the DDA (Special Preventive Measures), a person could be arrested arbitrarily without a warrant or reasonable cause.
“More importantly, those detained under this Act lose their right to a fair trial,” Yap had said in a press conference, adding that statistics from the National Drug Agency had showed drug-related crimes had steadily increased from 2008 to last year.
Shamini said Suaram has raised several pertinent concerns on the legislation.
“The DDA (Special Preventive Measures), as we see with other laws, including Sosma and the Sedition Act, opens up the potential for other sorts of abuse including ill-treatment in police custody, as has been documented for many years by civil society and lately, the judiciary,” she had said. SOSMA is the acronym for Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012.
The DDA (Special Preventive Measures) and other laws with such clauses were “broadly defined” and could result in too-wide interpretations which violate a citizen’s rights, she had added.
Amer said the DDA (Special Preventive Measures) was meant to help police arrest and investigate suspects without the need to bring them before a court.
“As a lawyer, I feel everyone should be accorded the right to be heard in the court of law. Regardless of the crime a person is suspected of commiting, the individual should be investigated and charged in court if there is any evidence. No one should be detained without trial,” he said.
Amer also said there were sufficient existing laws to charge people for offences, and as such, there was no more need for detention without trial. – September 21, 2014.