New Anti-Terror Law Includes Detention Without Trial, Electronic Monitoring

The new anti-terror act that will be tabled in Parliament this month will include provisions that allow for detention without trial and the implementation of the Electronic Monitoring Device (EMD), a source familiar with the new act said.

The source said the new act will have features similar to the Prevention of Crime (Amendment and Extension) Act 2013 (Poca), which allows suspected criminals to be detained without trial for up to two years.

“The power to decide whether or not the person will be detained or put under restrictive residence will be decided by an advisory board. The information, intelligence report and other evidence will be presented to the board before it makes its decision,” said the source.

“Besides the board, no one has the power to decide whether a suspect can be detained, not even the police or the home minister.”

Under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (Pota), any evidence needs to go through the Deputy Public Prosecutor who will act as the Inquiry Officer, said the source.

“This (the EMD) is an additional feature to monitor the movement of the person detained under Pota.”

He, however, declined to elaborate further as to how the EMD will be worn or placed on the suspect.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar confirmed that an advisory board would be formed.

“Since the preventive measure exists, definitely we will have an advisory board, because we want to remove such powers (to detain suspects) from the executive.”

On the introduction of the EMD, he would not comment as the act has yet to be finalised.

“The very basic elements that will be in it are that it is preventive in measure, punitive in nature, rehabilitative and (provides) counselling.

“At this moment, I cannot confirm anything else as it has not yet been finalised. I will know the details once I see the Bill in Parliament,” said Wan Junaidi.

When asked how the anti-terror act would differ from the existing Poca, Wan Junaidi said: “Poca is on the prevention of crime, but terrorism is more subversive.”

Lawyers,meanwhile, told The Malaysian Insider that the new anti-terrorism act was unnecessary given the wide array of security-related legislation already in place.

“We already have laws that allow the government to stop people from leaving the country to join terror groups. They are just not using them,” lawyer Andrew Khoo, who heads the Bar Council Human Rights Committee, told The Malaysian Insider.

“So why the need for more laws when you are not even adequately and appropriately using the ones you have?”

He said he had attended a Global Law Summit in London last week and the general opinion that arose was that theSec rule of law must prevail “even more”,  even as the world deals with the threat from the Islamic State (Isis).

“Any attempt to roll back on civil liberties, for example detention without trial, must be strongly resisted.”

Human rights lawyer Latheefa Koya said the government does not need to introduce a new set of laws to tackle terrorism in the country as it already has The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) to deal with terrorists.

“Sosma should be enough. It was created to tackle safety and security issues including terrorism. We have enough laws to counter terrorism. All we need is efficient policing and intelligence work,” said Latheefa.

She said if it is true that the new act will be something similar to (Poca) then it is just another attempt to bring back the Internal Security Act.

“This is just lazy work.  This will allow them to scoop just anybody and in the end, it will be open to abuse,” she said.

Criminal lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh said anti-terrorism laws typically allowed for police to conduct searches without warrants, intercept communication and detain suspects without trial.

“When it comes to terrorist acts, human rights are not the priority, so such provisions will likely be there.

“But they should also protect the basic rights of the suspects, such as allowing them to have legal representation, ensuring that the remand is not done on a rubber stamp basis, and allowing the parties to make an application to the court to review their detention,” he said.

Baljit added that the act should specify the timing of the interrogation sessions, to prevent suspects from being questioned at inappropriate hours.

Last November, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak proposed that a new law against militancy and terrorism be tabled at the next Parliament session to tackle the dangers posed by Malaysians who return after fighting alongside Isis.

In tabling the 19-page White Paper titled “Towards overcoming the threat of Islamic State”, Najib said existing anti-terrorism and militancy laws like the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act and the Penal Code should be bolstered. – March 3, 2015.



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