Malaysia: ICJ condemns newly tabled Prevention of Terrorism Bill

The present form of the recently tabled draft Prevention of Terrorism Act, also known as POTA, violates international standards and seeks to reintroduce detention without trial, said the ICJ.

The Malaysian government claims that the draft POTA, which was tabled yesterday in Parliament for its first reading, together with 7 other amendments, is aimed at curbing terrorist threats in the country.

“The draft law, as it is now, is susceptible to abuse,” said Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia. “It is very disturbing that the POTA has very similar elements that were in the problematic and now repealed 1960 Internal Security Act that was previously used to silence government opposition and curtail freedom of expression in the 1980s.”

For example, the ICJ notes with concern that the draft law allows a “board” that is not a court to order and extend detention for up to four years.

Only one of the members of the board is required to have any legal training at all.

Detention orders issued by the “board” cannot be challenged in any court, except on procedural issues.

The ICJ urges members of Parliament in Malaysia to amend the existing draft law so that it will not reintroduce draconian preventive detention measures, as in the repealed Internal Security Act.

The Parliament of Malaysia should either reject the draft law or amend its provisions to respect human rights.


Emerlynne Gil, ICJ International Legal Adviser, e: emerlynne.gil(a) or m: +668 4092 3575


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