Why the ISA is so wrong

BSA Tahir was released from ISA detention not too long ago. I wrote about it here and here. Like I said, I’m not against his release, and in fact, I’m happy that they have released him. But I do not agree with the nature of the entire “episode” of him being a threat to national security because someone says he is, and then not a threat anymore, also because some says he isn’t.

This is what the president of Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) has to say, and I’m on his side of this entire argument:

GMI is astonished by the statements made by the Home Minister and government officials on the release of B S A Tahir when barely two months ago, he was still deemed a threat to national security and the country’s economy. He was considered a threat because investigations revealed that he had links with an international network involved in the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology to Libya and therefore would expose Malaysia to breaching its commitments to the United Nations resolutions on the proliferation. (See Bernama report on 7 May 2008: “B S A Tahir was a threat to national security, country’s economy – Syed Hamid”).

The Home Minister, however, recently said that B S A Tahir was not a threat anymore and there was a recommendation for him to be released. He further added that he thought what needed to be investigated has been investigated.

GMI views this development as another ugly episode of the arbitrary nature of the ISA. Neither clear explanation nor details were given as to the nature of the threat or national security risks. In fact under the ISA, the Home Minister has no obligation to disclose to the public or to the courts the details of the detention or release. He has absolute power to detain a person without trial or proof, bypassing any judicial process, as well as to extend the detention arbitrarily. This is a clear violation of rule of the law.

The wide array of powers provided under the ISA makes it a very convenient for abuse. In the case of B S A Tahir, questions must be ask as to why he was detained under the ISA and not charged in the courts if investigations had been carried out. Questions also arise as to the nature of the release. Why now? Who made the recommendation? What were the specific reasons? Is there any connection to the current political climate?

GMI believes that as long as the ISA still exists, none of the questions will be answered. Selective detention and release as well as the extension of detention will continue to carried out at the mercy of the Home Minister. GMI reiterates that the ISA is in total contradiction to all human rights principles, especially the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to a fair and open trial, the right to legal counsel and the right to be free from torture. The ISA is indefensible and unjustifiable in any circumstances and should be abolished immediately.

Full article here.


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