Saturday, June 19, 2021

Rights group warns cops against ‘Sosma crackdown’

Lawyers for Liberty says using Sosma for this purpose will only see the police embroiled in an 'unending cycle of abuse of power'.

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Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today hit out at reports that officers from the police force and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) have been arrested under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 or Sosma as part of a crackdown on an organised crime syndicate in Johor, saying there is no reason to use the controversial law in this instance.

LFL coordinator Zaid Malek said the police statement on the matter appeared to show that they had gathered enough information to narrow down their list of suspects to a handful of specific individuals.

He added that the arrests were then widely publicised, discounting any notion that Sosma was being used to acquire sensitive information or to avoid alerting third parties of the investigation.

“The only logical reason as to why Sosma was used is therefore to maximise the period of detention of the suspects involved, which based on our observation is a common reason why Sosma is used.

“This is tantamount to detention without trial and is in violation of the fundamental principle of ‘innocent until proven guilty’,” he said in a statement.

Johor police said on Tuesday that 12 enforcement officers suspected of having links with the Nicky Gang organised crime syndicate had been arrested. Of these, two were from MACC.

Johor police chief Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay said these arrests brought the total number of people detained in relation to the case to 64.

Sosma, which replaced the 1960 Internal Security Act, allows for detention of up to 28 days.

Labelling the act as “a procedural law that leads to sham trials and convictions”, Zaid said it excludes fundamental safeguards found in the Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence Act and other laws.

“Evidence that is normally inadmissible in a normal criminal trial is admissible in a Sosma trial including evidence obtained by oppression, torture or even fabrication as the ‘evidence’ tendered will normally be admissible no matter how it was obtained.

“The accused will not be able to challenge or cross-examine most of the evidence admitted under Sosma as it allows for a protected witness to give evidence anonymously, thus contravening basic standards of fair trial. In short, a trial under Sosma is a mockery of the rule of law and the criminal justice system,” he said.

He praised the police for ramping up their enforcement against organised crime but voiced regret that this was being done in tandem with the use of draconic laws such as Sosma.

“The police basically are just replacing the problem with another problem, creating an unending cycle of abuse of power,” he said.

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