Thursday, March 08, 2007

Dissolve Rela, gov’t urged (Malaysiakini)

Dissolve Rela, gov’t urged
Mar 8, 07 4:31pm

Of the five proclamations of emergencies issued over the past 60 years, only one has been rescinded by the government. And sadly, it is this perpetual state of emergency that has led to abuses by the Peoples’ Volunteer Corp (Rela), said migrants rights advocates today.

Rela came into being following the passage of the Essential (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat) Regulations 1966 (amended in 2005), which in turn came under the Emergency (Essential Powers) Act 1964 (amended in 1979) passed during Malaysia’s ‘Confrontation’ with Indonesia.

Until the 1964 Act - or the three other states of emergency that have occurred following incidents or threat of communal violence - is revoked, Rela personnel in operation against undocumented migrants will continue to abuse the powers granted them, said the groups.

The powers include the right to bear and use firearms, stop, search and demand documents, arrest without a warrant, and enter premises without warrant.

Despite coming under heavy criticisms amidst media reports and allegations of abuse, gangster-like conduct, damage to private property, and wrongful arrest and detention, Rela personnel enjoy near-immunity under the laws, they said.

“Absolute power given to Rela would lead to absolute corruption. It is time the government abolish the outdated emergency acts and dissolve Rela,” said Jakarta-based Migrants Care in a statement.

Equal protection

On the same matter, a motion has been proposed to the Malaysian Bar - meeting March 17 for its annual general meeting - to call on the King to revoke all proclamations of emergency and all legislation and acts enacted under the proclamations.

Lawyers Charles Hector and Francis Pereira have also proposed that the laws to be revoked include the Essential Regulations 1966 as well as the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969.

While calling for the employment and usage of only properly trained professional law enforcement personnel, Hector and Pereira also proposed for the Bar to call for an inquest into the death of Ahmad Apik, 35, and Edy Sathurrohman, 26.

Ahmad and Edy, both Indonesians, were reported to have died in January this year allegedly at the hands of Rela volunteers.

The Bar was also urged to call for ‘all persons including undocumented migrants and/or refugees be treated humanely and accorded equal protection of the law’.

They also called for the Malaysian government to immediately ratify the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families as well as the 1985 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

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