Hamid Albar should explain why he is holding up tabling of latest
Suhakam report on its public inquiry into ISA conditions of detention in
Parliament two-thirds into its current meeting when it was made public
before opening of Parliament
by Lim Kit Siang
Four days before the official opening of Parliament by the Yang di Pertuan
Agong on March 10, Suhakam released its report on its public inquiry into
the Internal Security Act (ISA) conditions of detention and Suhakam
commissioner, Tan Sri Harun Hashim, expressed the hope that the Suhakam
report would be debated in Parliament.
Although Parliament has met for two-thirds of its current 18-day
parliamentary meeting, there are no signs of the tabling of the Suhakam
report let alone a schedule for its parliamentary debate.
The Foreign Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar should explain why he has held
up the Suhakam report from being tabled in Parliament already two-thirds
into its current meeting, when it was made public before the opening of
Parliament, and preventing its full debate.
Malaysians remember the row kicked up by the Foreign Ministry when the first
Suhakam annual report was presented directly to the Parliament Speaker by
the first Suhakam chairman, Tan Sri Musa Hitam, in April 2001, claiming that
Suhakam should not communicate directly with Parliament but must do it
through the Foreign Minister, the Minister designated by the government as
responsible for Suhakam.
Hamid Albar should be censured if he is responsible for holding up the
latest Suhakam report from being tabled in Parliament in circumstances where
it would be impossible for a full parliamentary debate to be held in the
current meeting scheduled to end on April 8, when Parliament had failed in
the past two years to monitor and oversee Suhakam to assess as to whether
the Human Rights Commission had discharged its statutory responsibility to
protect and promote human rights by debating four Suhakam reports completed
so far, viz:
Suhakam Annual Report 2000 in April 2001
Suhakam report on its first public inquiry into the Kesas
Highway Incident on 5th November 2000 and made public in August 2001;
Suhakam report on Freedom of Assembly submitted to Parliament
on October 2001; and
Suhakam Annual Report 2002 in April 2002.
If Parliament again abdicates its human rights responsibilities
for the fifth time in two years to debate Suhakam's latest report, then
Members of Parliament would have forfeited their right to criticize
government departments for any similar irresponsibility or dereliction of
In its latest report, Suhakam had made 18 recommendations aimed at improving
the detention conditions of the ISA detainees.
The Acting Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in his capacity
as Home Minister, should table a Ministerial statement on the government's
position on each of the 18 Suhakam recommendations, which should form the
basis for the parliamentary debate on the latest Suhakam report.
The government should in particular state whether it is prepared to accept
Suhakam's recommendations on the following:
The police should at all times exercise their utmost care in
ensuring that the right to liberty, as enshrined in Article 5 of the Federal
Constitution and Article 9 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
1948, is not violated without due justification.
Individuals should not be detained under the ISA unless genuine
reasons exist for believing that such individuals are a threat to national
security. Where detentions are necessary, such detentions should only be for
as long as is absolutely necessary.
Effective investigations should be carried out into allegations
of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment of ISA detainees.
Disciplinary action should be taken in respect of officers who have been
found upon investigation to have mistreated detainees.
Family members should be informed of the arrest of detainees
within 24 hours of the arrest. Detainees should not be required to wait for
two weeks before gaining access to their families.
Appropriate amendments should be made to Rule 22(6) of the
Lock-Up Rules 1958, to protect the right to privacy of the detainee during
family visits, as guaranteed under Article 12 of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
Detainees should be produced before a magistrate within 24
hours of arrest in accordance with Article 5 of the Federal Constitution.
Detainees should be allowed access to counsel during the
aforesaid production before a magistrate and supplied with a copy of the
grounds of arrest.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National