The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) in close cooperation with SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia) has launched an Observatory Report on an international mission of judicial observation in Malaysia on the hearing of habeas corpus application of five leaders of Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) who are detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). The hearing of the application took place from 24 to 28 January 2008 and on 26 February 2008 the Court upheld that the detention is in accordance with law.
The launching of the Observatory Report took place at Chinese Assembly Hall today. Miss Laurie Berg, a practising lawyer from Australia, who has been given the mandate to observe and report the entire preliminary hearing of habeas corpus application presented the report to the press and urged the Government of Malaysia to repeal the ISA in its entirety as indefinite detention without trial violates international human rights standards. This recommendation is in line with the universally recognized human rights norms and fundamental freedoms, particularly the right to “participate in peaceful activities against violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms” as enunciated in Article 12 of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
The Observatory also expressed their concern over the fact that the Detainees were not produced at the final hearing as their presence is of importance as to the question of the legality of their detention. The delay in delivering judgment is also one of the matters that concerns the Observatory.
Malaysia, being a member state of the United Nation is urged to comply with the fundamental principles of justice and universally recognized human rights norms enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, particularly on the prohibition of arbitrary arrest, detention or exile. The use of ISA only demonstrates various violations of human rights such as the right to fair and public trial, the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to answer the charges against them and the right not to be arbitrarily detained and the Observatory further stated that the Government has failed to show illegal or dangerous act has taken place as alleged to have threatened national security. The use of ISA also undermines the independence of the judiciary to scrutinize evidence of the alleged illegal or dangerous act.
In her closing remark, Miss Berg reiterates the Observatory Recommendations calling the Government of Malaysia in particular :
1) To repeal the ISA in its entirety.
2) To bring promptly before a judge all persons detained in the country within the framework of ISA.
3) All persons in Malaysia should be tried in conformity with international standards. The right of judicial review should be restored with respect to detention under ISA. Section 8B of the ISA should be repealed as an urgent and immediate step.
4) The five HINDRAF leaders and all detainees should be immediately released.
At the end of the press conference, Miss Berg in the presence of Mr. Saha Deva Arunasalam (representative of Bar Council Human Rights Committee), Mr Bernard Francis (representative of SUARAM) and also Mr. Syed Ibrahim Alhabsyi (the Chairman of Abolish ISA Movement (GMI)) handed over a copy of the Observatory Report to the family of HINDRAF leaders.