Friday, December 11, 2009

Samy Velu, Human Rights Advocate calls for the shutting down of Detention Without Trial Camp in Johor

Samy Velu has just become an advocate for human rights when he called for the closure of that Detention Without Trial camp, that infamous  Simpang Renggam detention camp in Johor.

There are 3 main laws that allow for Detention Without Trial, and they are:-
Internal Security Act 1960,
Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969; and
Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985.

All these laws allows the UMNO-led BN government of Malaysia to detain people for indefinite periods without giving them their fundamental right to defend themselves, and their right to a fair trial.

They can just pick up anybody under these Detention Without Trial Laws, and detain them indefinitely. In the late 80's, the laws have been amended that now prevents detainees from going to court to challenge the alleged reasons for their detention - this was done vide an application known as habeas corpus. Today, all that can be challenged in court  are the technical issues like whether it was the Minister who signed the Detention Order, etc - now the alleged reasons for the detentions.

ISA have received the greatest attention by civil society groups, political parties and Malaysians generally as many of the big names have become victim to these laws - Lim Kit Siang, Karpal Singh, Koh Swe Yong, Nasir Hashim, Anwar Ibrahim, Syed Husin Ali, Cecilia Ng, Theresa Lim Chin Chin, Chee Heng Leng, Irene Xavier, Julian Jeyaseelan, Chandra Muzzaffar, ...

But the fact is that there are hundreds and thousands others who have become victim to that other Detention Without Trial Laws...and there are still many under detention without trial. (Under the ISA, it seems that there only 9 still under detention under the ISA)

Every person is entitled to a fair trial, with the full opportunity to defend themselves against charges levied against them, and only after being convicted should they be deprived of their liberty by reason of an imprisonment sentence for a fixed period of time as determined by an independent judge. 

Joining Samy Velu, we should call for the closure of all Detention Without Trial Centres, and go further calling for the immediate and unconditional release of all currently being detained under these detention without trial laws. We should also call for the immediate repeal of all laws that allow for Detention Without Trial. Hopefully, Samy Velu will also join us in calling for the immediate release and for the repeal of these Detention Without Trial Laws.

'Shoot to Kill' incidents by the police indicate a decline in our society when the police acts like judge, jury and executioner.

Detention Without Trial laws are bad as the Government of the Day (i.e. the Home Minister) acts like Judge, Jury and Detaining authority. Detention Without Trial Laws are bad because the detainee do not know the length of the period that he/she will be detained, unlike a prison sentence after a fair trial where the court immediately tells you the length of your period of imprisonment.

For a deeper understanding of these Detention Without Trial laws, and how similar they are, read my article PREVENTIVE DETENTION IN MALAYSIA– A BRIEF OVERVIEW (found in the Blog post - PR must release immediately all under ISA and Detention Without Trial Laws...

One of the recent Malaysian Bar resolution on this is to be found in post, Malaysian Bar Resolution on Detention without Trial laws

The news report where Samy Velu is seen as a human rights advocate...

MIC wants the government to close down the infamous Simpang Renggam detention camp in Johor, dubbed Malaysia's Guantanamo Bay, as it has outlived and probably deviated from its purpose of rehabilitating inmates.

Party president S Samy Vellu said MIC felt the detention camp built in 1986 to act as a rehabilitation centre, has become a "breeding ground" for more criminals, especially among the Indians, instead of rehabilitating them.

samy vellu exclusive on tamil schools 080708 06"Petty criminals who are sent there (the camp) graduate to become hardcore criminals," he told reporters after opening the MIC Youth workshop on crime prevention among Indian youth in Petaling Jaya.

To a question, Samy Vellu said he was aware that several non-governmental organisations also wanted the camp to be closed.

The camp houses detainees held under the Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, as well as convicts and remand prisoners.

Relocate inmates to modern prisons

Former detainees, the Bar Council, and the parliamentary caucus on human rights have described poor conditions of detention, overcrowded cells, inedible food infested with worms, limited access to fresh air or exercise, and unhygienic living conditions.

Samy Vellu who visited the camp in 2007 as the then works minister, pointed out that the camp was also overcrowded and inmates were living in "filthy conditions".

It was reported that the camp could only accommodate 2,000 inmates but was now catering for more than 4,000 inmates.

Samy Vellu suggested that inmates who were serving their jail sentences, be relocated to modern prisons such as in Sungai Buloh, while inmates who were yet to be charged in court be brought before the courts to face punishments.

simpang renggam prison 050107 front entrance"For inmates who could not be charged in courts for various reasons, we feel they should be made to do community service and transferred to another rehabilitation camp with modern facilities," he said.

The former works minister said during his visit to the camp, he had personally talked to several inmates who complained that they were supposed to be detained for two years, but claimed that the authorities had extended their remand.

Samy Vellu said he was confident Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein would consider the MIC's request or find an alternative solution to it.- Malaysiakini, 11/12/2009,
Shut down local 'Guantanamo Bay'

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