Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Journalist Jahabar and Ho should not be held overnight? Rights of suspects and powers of police?

According to a recent Malaysian Insider report, Jahabar and Ho will have to spend a night in the police lock-up. Why? Will the police be ' doing investigating' overnight? Why not just release them on police bail - and ask them to return the following morning? See relevant post:-  Jahabar Sadiq of MI arrested for Sedition? No need for an arrest or remand if just investigating?

The three other journalist also were made to spend a night in the police lock-up, and the police failed in their remand application. This fact should have guided the police in their treatment of Jahabar and Ho - why keep them in the police station overnight. Note that they were not arrested and dragged to the police station - but went there voluntarily to only be arrested.

The conditions of Malaysian lock-ups are said to be worse than the condition of prisons that house the convicted. Lock-ups which house mere suspects should really be improved and be better than prison conditions. 

The reasons for the arrests allegedly is in connection with a news report - which after reading it, I find that there really is nothing that wrong considering that it was a report based on sources. If the report disclosed facts that were not true, then the aggrieved party should have just contacted the said media and demand a retraction and a clarification - and I am sure that a report correcting the wrong facts would have come out. Here, apparently only a police report was lodged.

Most news reports - are just that 'reports' - they are not deeply investigated and heavily researched reports. Reports will reveal not just different opinions but also differing perception of the facts - and media will always try to get both sides to present a balance view or a verification of the facts where possible. But being a daily, time sometimes may be a hurdle - and sometimes, there really is no clear sources where one will be able to get confirmation or verification. Do we kill the news because of this? Or do we report now what we have - and publish later other views or clarifications? That is the questions that confronts journalists and editors everyday..

In any event, I believe that arrest, overnight detentions and remand applications are certainly excessive actions by the police in these cases. The police have the power to do this but at the same time, they should try to avoid having to detain suspects overnight and for longer remand periods for crimes of these nature. After all, we are dealing with mere 'suspects' - persons who should be presumed innocent at this stage..

See relevant post:-  Jahabar Sadiq of MI arrested for Sedition? No need for an arrest or remand if just investigating?

 Rights of suspects and powers of police

When the police arrest a person, that person is a suspect and not just a witness(or a person whose assistance is sought for in an investigation).

Unlike a witness, a suspect is under no obligation to talk to the police - a suspect can simply elect to be 'silent' or he can make the following statement 'Anything I have to say, I will say in court.' 

If one is being called as a witness(whose person whose assistance is sought in connection with a case), then one is 'bound to answer all questions' only if (a) it is related to the case; OR (b) if the answer that you will be giving will not expose you to possibility of a '...criminal charge or penalty or forfeiture...' If you are not sure whether you should say this or that to the police, good to consult your lawyer. Always good to have your lawyer present when you are call to the police station.

111  Police officer's power to require attendance of witnesses.(Criminal Procedure Code)
(1) A police officer making an investigation under this Chapter may by order in writing require the attendance before himself of any person who from the information given or otherwise appears to be acquainted with the circumstances of the case, and that person shall attend as so required.

(2) If any such person refuses to attend as so required that police officer may report such refusal to a Magistrate who may thereupon in his discretion issue a warrant to secure the attendance of that person as required by such order.
112  Examination of witnesses by police(Criminal Procedure Code)

(1) A police officer making a police investigation under this Chapter may examine orally any person supposed to be acquainted with the facts and circumstances of the case and shall reduce into writing any statement made by the person so examined.

(2) Such person shall be bound to answer all questions relating to the case put to him by that officer:

Provided that such person may refuse to answer any question the answer to which would have a tendency to expose him to a criminal charge or penalty or forfeiture.
(3) A person making a statement under this section shall be legally bound to state the truth, whether or not such statement is made wholly or partly in answer to questions.
(4) A police officer examining a person under subsection (1) shall first inform that person of the provisions of subsections (2) and (3).
(5) A statement made by any person under this section shall, whenever possible, be taken down in writing and signed by the person making it or affixed with his thumb print as the case may be, after it has been read to him in the language in which he made it and after he has been given an opportunity to make any corrections he may wish.
If arrested, you are a SUSPECT - and the police can detain you for up to 24 hours...and if the investigations cannot be completed, then they need to apply for remand...

117  Procedure where investigation cannot be completed within twenty-four hour

(1) Whenever any person is arrested and detained in custody and it appears that the investigation cannot be completed within the period of twenty-four hours fixed by section 28 and there are grounds for believing that the accusation or information is well founded the police officer making the investigation shall immediately transmit to a Magistrate a copy of the entries in the diary hereinafter prescribed relating to the case and shall at the same time produce the accused before the Magistrate. ....
What are the possible elements of investigation that would require your presence in the police station

a)  Police may want to take your photographs, your fingerprints, ..
b)  Police may want to interview you or take your statement [Now, if the suspect clearly states that they have nothing to say and 'anything they have to say, they will say in court' - then really this cannot be a reason used to continue keeping you at the police station?]
c)  The police have witnesses and they want you for an identification parade...
d)  In the case of migrants, police may say that they need time to verify with the immigration department that your passport and visa/work pass are valid..(Same can also happen with a Malaysian - but it is rare)

So, as you see, most of these can very easily be done in a couple of hours at most...

So when the police arrest and keep a person in custody for a long time, or even go for an application to remand even longer, I wonder whether this may be just a case of 'abuse of power' ...

Some may say - well, what do you mean - release all them guilty folks 

BUT - remember every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty ...

AND, the police can always immediately charge them in court - and if they have very good reasons, bail can be denied and they will be in detention until the end of their trial...of course, speedy trial should happen... for nobody wants to deny an innocent man his or her freedom.

Court rejects request to remand TMI editors

Lionel Morais, Amin Shah Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong walks out of The Edge office shortly after their arrest yesterday. – The Malaysian Insider pic, March 31, 2015.Lionel Morais, Amin Shah Iskandar and Zulkifli Sulong walks out of The Edge office shortly after their arrest yesterday. – The Malaysian Insider pic, March 31, 2015.

The Magistrate's Court today rejected an application by police to remand The Malaysian Insider (TMI) managing editor, Lionel Morais, Malay section editor Amin Iskandar and features and analysis editor, Zulkifli Sulong.

Zulkifli's daughter, Nadia Zulkifli, who is among the lawyers representing them, said the three are expected to be released from the Dang Wangi police station at 7pm today.

Another lawyer for the three, Syahredzan Johan (pic, right) tweeted that remand was rejected by magistrate Tuan Nazri Omran.

Syahredzan said he had submitted to the magistrate that the three had given full cooperation to the police. "We even told them who wrote the article. So there is no need to detain them further," he said.

The three were arrested yesterday over the portal's report on March 25 that the Conference of Rulers had rejected a plan to amend a federal law that would allow hudud, or the Islamic penal code, to be enforced in Kelantan.

However, TMI chief executive Jahabar Sadiq and The Edge Media Group CEO, Ho Kay Tat, are still being detained.

The duo were arrested this morning at the Dang Wangi police station when they went to give their statements
. The Edge Media Group owns TMI.

Police said they would apply for a remand order for Ho and Jahabar.

Syahredzan said the duo would be spending the night in custody.

The arrests are part of investigations after a police report was lodged by an official from the Conference of Rulers last week. Another report was lodged against the portal by Kedah Umno Youth.

Police confiscated the editors' phones and a laptop to facilitate investigations.

Lionel, Amin and Zulkifli spent the night at the Dang Wangi police station.

Civil society leader and former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan came to the remand hearing at the Dang Wangi police station this morning.

The report published on March 25 said the Conference of Rulers had rejected a proposal to amend a federal law that would pave the way for hudud to be enforced in Kelantan.

The article said that the proposal to amend the law was in a report by the joint Hudud Technical Committee, which comprised Kelantan state religious officials and those from the federal government. The joint committee had prepared the report on the proposed amendments for the rulers to consider at their meeting on March 11, but it did not go through.

The Keeper of the Rulers' Seal lodged a police report on March 26 to deny that the Conference of Rulers had discussed the matter, saying it had never issued any statement on hudud in Kelantan. – March 31, 2015.

Rulers’ office denies issuing hudud remarks, lodges police report

Thursday March 26, 2015
05:30 PM GMT+8
File picture shows the Raja of Perlis and Sultan of Selangor attending the 237th Conference of Rulers in Istana Negara. The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal denied issuing any statement on Kelantan’s hudud plan, and wanted police to investigate. — Bernama picFile picture shows the Raja of Perlis and Sultan of Selangor attending the 237th Conference of Rulers in Istana Negara. The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal denied issuing any statement on Kelantan’s hudud plan, and wanted police to investigate. — Bernama pic KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — The Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal denied today issuing any statement on Kelantan’s hudud plan, and is seeking a police investigation into the matter.

In a statement quoted by Bernama, Datuk Seri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad said a report has been lodged at the Jalan Travers police station.

The Conference of Rulers has never discussed the matter at its meetings.

“The office (of the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal) did not issue a press statement dated March 25 on the matter,” he reportedly said.

Online news portal The Malaysian Insider carried a report yesterday claiming the Conference of Rulers had rejected Kelantan’s proposed amendments to a federal law meant to enable the enforcement of hudud.

A Kelantan government leader, however, disputed the article.

Datuk Mohd Takiyuddin Hassan, who is head of Kelantan’s permanent secretariat on hudud, said yesterday he was informed by Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yaakob that the state’s hudud plans were never presented to the royal council in the first place.

He went on to point out that the implementation of hudud in Kelantan had already received blessings from the royal institution as far back as 1993 when the state’s Shariah Criminal Code II enactment was passed.

Hours after the article was published, a statement purportedly by the Council began circulating on social media.

The statement allegedly quoted a spokesperson from the Conference of Rulers refuting The Malaysian Insider’s article as false and erroneous.

Earlier today, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) will investigate the matter.

The minister said the Conference of Rulers did not issue any official statement to refute a news report by an online news portal on the hudud issue.

On March 19, PAS-ruled Kelantan passed key amendments to its Shariah Criminal Code II 1993 in a move to enable the eventual implementation of hudud in the Malay-majority east coast state.

Hadi last week served notice to Parliament on the proposed Bill, but BN’s de facto law minister Datuk Nancy Shukri said it may not make it into the order paper for the current session as there are many others on the schedule.

With DAP and PKR’s rejection, PAS and its 21 MPs in the lower house must rely on all of Umno’s MPs plus more from other non-Muslim parties in order to get a simple majority of 112 votes to get the Bill passed.

Media Bodies Express Regret Over Detention Of Media Staff

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 (Bernama) -- A number of media associations have expressed regret over the arrest of five media personnel over a report allegedly linking the Conference of Rulers to the issue of the proposed implementation of the hudud law in PAS-led Kelantan.

National Press Club Malaysia (NPC) president Mokhtar Hussain said the authorities should not come down hard on the individuals, who worked for a local media group which operates a news portal.

"The authorities should not be too harsh on the journalists, and we hope they will be released soon," he told Bernama.

The NPC, he said, would also like to propose that the news portal be asked to apologise if it had reported wrongly on the issue.

At the same time, Mokhtar said, journalists should uphold good journalistic values at all times.

National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia general secretary Schave Jerome De Rozario was also critical of the detentions.

"They were merely doing their job as journalists. This action does not augur well for the government's promise to allow the Malaysian media to operate freely and without fear of their reporters being detained under questionable reasoning," he said.

Young Journalists Club of Malaysia president Dzulkarnain Taib said that if the authorities acted due to anyone having exceeded the limits of the law, there was no reason to blame the act or the police.

Three of the five media personnel were arrested yesterday to assist investigations under the Sedition Act while the other two were picked up earlier today.

The Keeper of the Rulers' Seal Datuk Seri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad had on Thursday lodged a police report denying any statement had been issued on the stand of the Conference of Rulers on the proposed implementation of the hudud law in Kelantan.


NUJ: Police should stop intimidation against media | theSundaily
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