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The controversial Sosma law

The controversial Sosma law

The news that the government won't be looking at the Sosma security law has sparked criticism from human rights groups as well as politicians. The newly appointed the home minister Saifuddin Nasution has defended the law, claiming it "allows the court process to be conducted" and is needed to deal with organised crime related cases. However, the usage of Sosma is a long-running controversial issue , and was decried by Pakatan Harapan prior to the general election in 2018.

What's Sosma?

Sosma can be described as The Security Offences (Special Measures) Act. It provides for specific measures for offences against the state in order to ensure security and public order and other matters.

It was first suggested in 2012 to replace for the now defunct Internal Security Act, which permitted indefinite detention with no trial. Sosma was approved during June of 2012 under the Najib Razak government,stated by website online casino malaysia.

The law was passed in accordance with a constitutional provision that grants wide powers against violence against the public security, terrorist acts or sabotage, as well as espionage.

What is the reason it is controversial?

Under Sosma the law, police officers is able to detain and/or arrest the person they believe is associated with security crimes, without warrant. Section 4(5) in Sosma permits police to arrest a person believed to be involved in terrorist acts for up to 28 days to conduct investigations without the need for a court order.

This section will be reviewed every five years. It is set to expire at the time of the review an appropriate resolution is passed by both chambers of Parliament to extend this time period for which the provision is in effect.

In July in July, in July, the Dewan Rakyat approved a five-year extension of the current provision. Sosma detainees can be released before 28 days are over The police can attach an electronic monitoring device to them not exceeding the time of detention.

In Section 5(2) of the law, a police officer who isn't below that of the grade superintendent is able to hinder a detainee's meeting with their next of kin or legal counsel for no more than 48 hours in the event that:

  • The cops think there is a reasonable reason the lawyer could interfer with evidence
  • it could cause injury of someone else;
  • They will notify another person that they suspect of being engaged in a security offense or
  • They could make it difficult to recover the property that was acquired as a consequence of the offense.

Solid support is provided for Sosma

Former inspector-general of the police Musa Hassan said Saifuddin made the right choice to defend Sosma since it was crucial to establish preventive laws that examine crimes that could threaten the security of the country. The police need to be given more detention authority to look into (these crimes) more thoroughly and to identify these criminal syndicates, the financiers, as well as the ringleaders," he told FMT. "So yes, the 28-day detention timeframe is a viable option and the law should be kept.

He said that although there are additional procedures in force but the time for detention was too short, which made it difficult for police to conduct complete investigation. In the year 2019, while PH is in government, the minister of home Muhyiddin Yassin also stood up for Sosma and said it was necessary to stop the spread of terrorism, as other laws were not adequate.

Muhyiddin also employed Sosma to arrest a number of DAP members in the year 2019 due to claims of connections to the now-defunct Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which was included on the Home Ministry's list of terror groups.

Criticisms of the "unjust" Act

However, politicians and human rights activists have said Sosma as extremely draconian, as it violates the rights of the rights of a person's basic rights as stipulated under Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.

The most vocal of opponents is the former Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, who claimed that Sosma "breeds and institutionalizes injustice" in reference to the section 30 of the Act which permits detainees be held in jail until the trial and appeals are completed.

Maria was arrested under Sosma on the 18th of November 2016 - just a day before the Bersih 5 rally - and was held in solitary confinement for a day in an 8 by 15 feet cell that was windowless. An Malay Mail report said she was not allowed to sleep and described the conditions to be "ISA-style".

Other human rights organizations have also urged the government to remove the Sosma clause that prohibits bail and reinstate the role of the magistrate when it comes to granting Remand orders.

In fact, Damansara the Damansara MP Gobind Singh Deo reminded Saifuddin that PH has always been opposed to Sosma. He added that Pakatan Harapan leader Anwar Ibrahim currently the premier has stated in 2019 that certain sections of Sosma should be changed because it was "too severe".

Backtracking in PH?

The unity government led by PH has been accused of reversing course on reforming the law in response to Saifuddin's remarks, especially since the coalition was open about the issue previously.

But, the repeal of legislation was never mentioned in the manifesto of PH for the recent general elections. Saifuddin later admitted that some clauses in Sosma will have to be examined at "time in the future" However, the minister also stated that there won't be any modifications to the Act at the moment.