Lawyers’ Group Tells PH: Stop Dithering, Ditch Sosma Now

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Government urged to abolish Sosma without delay.

Lawyers for Liberty has raised its concern over the government’s announcement that the controversial Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) will not be abolished but instead amended.

Its director Melissa Sasidaran said the government needed no reminder on how Sosma was abused in the past, including to target dissidents and the then opposition.

“Oppressive laws cannot magically transform into just and acceptable laws simply because Pakatan Harapan is now in power,” she said in a statement.

Sasidaran said the backpedalling under the blanket excuse of national security and fighting terrorism was similar to the previous Barisan Nasional government.

She said Sosma fell short of international standards for a fair, which is a fundamental right that must be accorded to anyone facing a criminal charge.

“Evidence that is normally inadmissible in a normal criminal trial is admissible in a Sosma trial, including evidence obtained by oppression, torture or even fabrication as the ‘evidence’ tendered will normally be admissible, no matter how it was obtained.”

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“Further, the accused will not be able to challenge or cross-examine most of the evidence admitted under Sosma as it allows for a protected witness to give evidence in anonymity, thus contravening basic standards of a fair trial,” she added.

“Sosma allows for a show trial that will almost inevitably lead to a conviction. This makes a mockery of the rule of law and our criminal justice system, with the Act falling far short of international standards of fair trial, a fundamental right that must be accorded to anyone facing a criminal charge,” she said.

Sasidaran said Malaysia cannot call itself a proper democracy while undemocratic and draconian laws remain.

She urged PH to honour its promise and abolish Sosma without delay.

Yesterday, Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Act is still needed to counter-terrorism activities in Malaysia.

He said without Sosma, perpetrators of terrorism will be free from the law and bring danger to the nation, as current laws in the country are inadequate.

For the record, PH in its election manifesto hadn’t promised to repeal Sosma altogether, but rather “to abolish draconian provisions in the following acts” which included Sosma, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, as well as the Penal Code 1997 governing peaceful assembly and activities harmful to democracy.

However, in July last year, several months after Harapan won the general election, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that the government would repeal oppressive laws, including Sosma.

He said the act had allowed the previous government to arrest anyone without having to go to court.

“(Former premier) Najib´s law allows a person to be arrested and not be taken to court and if that person died, there will be neither an inquiry nor action taken against those who killed him. That is the law passed by Najib and we will repeal that law,” he said.

In the past, those arrested under Sosma included former Ummo leader Khairuddin Abu Hassan, lawyer Matthias Chang and ex-Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah.

Recently, 12 individuals, including two DAP assemblypersons, were detained under Sosma over alleged links with Sri Lanka’s LTTE.

The usage of Sosma for the arrests had irked several leaders.

The security law, meant to replace the ISA, allows the police to detain an individual for up to 28 days without trial.