The seven persons arrested for spreading rumours of terrorist attacks on the Internet should be charged in court and not held under detention-without-trial ISA
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Thursday): The seven persons arrested by the police for spreading rumours of impending terrorist attacks in Kuala Lumpur on the Internet should be charged in court and not be held under detention-without-trial provisions of the Internal Security Act (ISA) to underline the importance of strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights in the war against terror.
DAP fully agrees with the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi that stern action must be taken in such cases as “we cannot allow fumours to sidetrack or negatively affect us”.
Spreading rumours through email about pre-planned bombings in various public areas in the city, including the Kuala Lumpur City Centre, even if done innocently but misguidedly, is the height of irresponsibility as it could create chaos in our plural society and must be dealt with severely. Police said that the e-mails claimed that terrorists were planning to bomb major shopping complexes patronised by both locals and foreigners.
However, it is no justification for the use of detention-without-trial laws like the draconian ISA. Abdullah is wrong to justify the use of ISA to arrest the seven as “a pre-emptive move”. What is there to “pre-empt” when the culprits had already committed the crime of spreading the rumours on the net and were arrested after, and not before, their acts – even having their computers seized by the police?
It will only be a “pre-emptive” move if the seven were arrested before they could send out the emails and somehow the police had information that they were about to send out such emails on the Internet – which is clearly not the case here.
Abdullah should take serious note of the complaint by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Sergio Vieira de Mello, in Helsinki yesterday that the U.S.-led "war on terror" was damaging human rights standards and exacerbating prejudices around the world.
should not blindly follow the US example to trample on human rights in the
battle against terrorism and should take special pains not to undermine the
rule of law and human rights.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman