Thursday, April 28, 2011

Was Malaysia 'silent' because it was the US in the case of the 2 Malaysians in Guantanamo?

2 Malaysians overseas arrested by the US and detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility. Worse still - they were apparently arrested in Thailand and Cambodia, 2 member nations of ASEAN. How could Malaysia sit by silently? If 2 US citizens were  in, say Thailand, and  were arrested and detained by the Malaysian government under the ISA, for example, would the US government allow this to be done. I do not think so. Malaysia should also not have sat by silently - and should safeguard all its citizens - be they in the country and/or in some other country. I do hope the government clarifies matters and justifies their reason for allowing these 2 Malaysians to languish in detention under the US.

If two Malaysians commit a crime in US, AND gets arrested in the US, and thereafter charged and tried, it is a different matter - but in this case the 2 were arrested not in the US.

Malaysia must demand the safe return of two citizens detained by the US in Guantanamo Bay, if it does not want to be seen as failing to uphold its rights as a sovereign nation.

charlesl hector interview 05052005 lookingHuman rights lawyer Charles Hector (left) said it is the country's “duty” to its citizens to follow up on such cases, especially since the two - suspected terrorists Mohamad Nazir Lep and Mohd Farik Amin - were not arrested on American soil.

“Malaysia should be condemned for not following up on the two there. If it were any other country, they would be jumping up and down if their citizens were detained by another country,” he said when contacted today.

Charles said the detention of the duo in the anti-terrorism facility should not be allowed as they were not arrested for crimes committed in the US.

Based on leaked US governmentNONE documents posted on Wikileaks, Mohamad Nazir was arrested in Thailand while Mohd Farik (right) was caught in Cambodia in 2003. 
The duo were transferred to Guantanamo Bay on Sept 4, 2006, based on allegations that they had been plotting a similar attack as the Sept 11, 2001 tragedy in New York, but this time in Los Angeles.

Charles pointed out that, as with any country, the US is entitled to charge any individual for a crime committed on its territory but stressed that taking custody of individuals caught in another country is a different matter altogether.

Malaysia can leverage on the fact that, despite detaining a group of foreigners under the Internal Security Act (ISA) last year, they were deported to their respective countries to be tried in a court of law, he said.

“They should be sent back to Malaysia and tried under Malaysian law. They were caught in Asean countries... the US should recognise not only Asean but also the sovereignty of Malaysia,” he said.

“I'm sure the US has no jurisdiction in Cambodia or Thailand. This is (Malaysia's) duty to the citizens. If Malaysia allows the US to do this, it is as if Malaysia is not standing up for its sovereignty.”

'Fair, open trial needed'
Human rights NGO Suaram also weighed in, saying the main issue is to have a “fair and open trial” for the duo, instead of leaving them to languish among more than 700 people being held in the Guantanamo Bay facility in Cuba.

Coordinator P Nalini said that, from the time the NGO found out about the detention of the duo in 2006, it has constantly called on the government to bring them back to face trial here, or at least to push the US to conduct a trial there.

She pointed out, however, that the continued existence of the ISA gives Malaysia fewer grounds to demand that they be extradited.

Suaram said it believes that a trial, regardless of where it is conducted, is a more realistic aim for the sake of Mohamad Nazir and Mohd Farik.

“If a trial (can't be held) in the US, send them back here. So long as there is no fair and open trial, we won't get the truth.”

Suaram has been unable to locate the families of the two detainees despite numerous attempts. It only knows that one of them is from Johor. - Malaysiakini, 27/4/2011, 'M'sia letting US trample on sovereignty'

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