MALAYSIA — In a statement issued on Saturday (29 Apr), Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET) called for the prompt repeal of Detention Without Trial (DWT) laws in Malaysia, following the recent abolition of mandatory death penalty and imprisonment for natural life.
MADPET specifically highlighted laws such as the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA), and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985.
MADPET argued that these DWT laws undermine the fundamental principle of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a fair trial.
The organization cited Article 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which guarantees the right to be presumed innocent and to a public trial with adequate defense.
The lack of trial in DWT cases denies individuals the opportunity to defend themselves and allows the authorities to detain or restrict them indefinitely without judicial oversight.
One concerning aspect highlighted by MADPET is the provision in POCA that imposes double punishment for crimes committed by registered individuals. Such individuals face sentences twice as long as the maximum term provided by the law for the same offense.
MADPET deemed this practice unjust and a violation of the principle of equal protection under the law enshrined in Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.
MADPET emphasized that the abolition of DWT laws is crucial, even if prominent individuals like Anwar Ibrahim or Lim Kit Siang are no longer affected by them.
The organization drew attention to statistics revealing the extensive use of POCA, with thousands of individuals placed under detention or surveillance orders.
Highlighting the broad application of POCA, MADPET expressed concerns that resorting to DWT laws might allow law enforcement agencies to circumvent their duty to prove guilt in court, potentially leading to a lack of thorough investigations.
The statement further questioned the impact of bribes in influencing the use of DWT laws instead of pursuing fair trials.
MADPET stressed that only the courts should have the authority to prove guilt and impose punishment in accordance with the sentences prescribed by law.
“Extrajudicial punishment imposed by the administration or any other administrative Boards must end. Only the courts and judges determine guilt, and should be the only ones allowed to impose punishment on a person convicted of a crime,” said MADPET.
With the upcoming parliamentary session scheduled for 22 May to 15 June, MADPET called on the Malaysian government to introduce bills aimed at abolishing Detention Without Trial laws.
The organization also reiterated its call for the swift repeal of other draconian laws, including the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (SOSMA), Sedition Act, and Societies Act.