Suhakam must assert its statutory powers to visit the ISA detainees to ensure that they are safe and sound and not subject to police brutality and torture after the unusual Mohamad Ezam behaviour during Monday's first family visit

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): There are disturbing reports from the first family visits allowed by police to some of the 10 Internal Security Act (ISA)  detainees raising questions as to whether are under great duress and coercion.

For instance, it has been reported that Keadilan Youth chief Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor told his family during a two-hour visit on Monday  to relate a message to the party Youth requesting them to "cool off" in the campaign for the release of ISA detainees, which is most extraordinary and totally uncharacteristic of him raising questions as to what form of pressures and treatment Mohamad Ezam had undergone in the four weeks of ISA arrest.

After Mohamad Ezam’s unusual behaviour during his first family visit on Monday, it is even more imperative that the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam)  assert its statutory powers to visit the ISA detainees to ensure that they are safe and sound and not subject to police brutality and torture.

Suhakam Commissioner Prof Hamdan Adnan said yesterday that  Suhakam is continuously asking the police to fix a date for the visit to the ISA detainees and the last request was made last Friday.

Hamdan had rightly said that under Section 4 of the Human Rights Commission Act, the commission has the power to do several things, among which is visiting those detained by the authority and  to assess how the detainees have been

This is already the start of the fifth week of ISA arrest for four detainees who are still denied family access,  namely Parti Keadilan vice president Tian Chua; Keadilan supreme council member N. Gobalakrishnan, Penang Keadilan  Youth  exco member Abdul Ghani Harun and social activist Hishamuddin Rais.

Although the police had in principle agreed to allow  Suhakam to visit the ISA detainees after completion of police investigations, it is clear that the police are “playing games” with Suhakam as four weeks have passed without any Suhakam commissioner being allowed to visit the ISA detainees.

Suhakam should not allow the Police to trifle with it  and to act in such an obstructive manner to frustrate the commission from exercising its statutory powers  to visit the ISA detainees.  Suhakam  should seriously consider seeking a court order to establish such Suhakam statutory rights, duties and powers.

If the Court should find that Suhakam has no such powers, then the Human Rights Commission Act 1999 should be amended in the next parliamentary meeting to clearly spell out such rights, duties and powers to prevent any obstructionist tactics on the part of the police which make a complete mockery of Parliament’s will  in establishing a Human Rights Commission.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman