Friday, December 02, 2011

EMPOWER opposes strongly to the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill (2/12/2011)

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)
Press Statement
2 December 2011

EMPOWER opposes strongly to the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill as it is an affront to all Malaysians since Article 10 of the Federal Constitution  fully guarantees every citizen the right to speech, assembly and association.

EMPOWER demands the total and immediate withdrawal of the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill.

EMPOWER is deeply disappointed that the government has viewed the citizens’ voices and their assertion of rights as threats rather than as a resource to build democracy and human rights.

As it stands, police are already authorised to break up demonstrations, arrest participants, and may use brute force if orders to disperse are not promptly obeyed. Public rallies are routinely denied permits. Such a proposal is completely out of step with the demands of democracy; calls for freedom will ring hollow if the government continues to repress and oppress critical expressions.

The introduction of the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill will only serve to increase the powers of the police, which might lead to more abuses. This Bill is an excuse by the government to further control and stifle expressions of constructive and critical opinions on political and social issues.

There are many ways to deal with the issue of assembly and public rallies. To begin with, amend section 27 of the Police Act which requires police permits. It should be sufficient that a notification of seven days from the organisers will enable the police to conduct preparations of traffic control and security.

Practical training on human rights and negotiation skills should be conducted for law enforcement officers, with the view to changing mindsets and attitudes in relation to the public’s right to peaceful assembly. The principle of upholding human rights should be instilled into law enforcement officers in order that peaceful assemblies can happen in a democratic and open atmosphere.

In addition, the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) should be set up to monitor the implementation of enforcement. This will ensure the proper conduct of the law enforcement officers at all times and will eliminate any potential for abuse of powers.

Malaysia is a young emerging democracy and its citizens are increasingly mindful of their rights to speech, assembly and association. Attempts to suppress their democratic rights will be truly unjust and can only backfire on the government.

The withdrawal of the Bill can only serve the government well given its position on the United Nations Human Rights Council. Once again, EMPOWER calls for the withdrawal of the proposed Peaceful Assembly Bill.

(Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor)
Address:13, Lorong 4/48E,
             Seksyen 4,
             46050 Petaling Jaya,
             Selangor, Malaysia
Tel: 03 - 7784 4977
Fax: 03 - 7784 4978

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