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Malaysia: New Security Law Being Considered

(Apr. 17, 2012) On April 10, 2012, a bill for a new law on national security was introduced in the Malaysian Parliament. It will be debated in the lower house of the Parliament during the week of April 16; if it is approved there, it will go to the upper house and then to the country's constitutional monarch. The new legislation would replace a law from 1960, the Internal Security Act, 1960 (Act 82) (International Commission of Jurists website (last visited Apr. 13, 2012)).

If it comes into effect, the new law will limit how long police can detain a suspect without trial to 28 days; at present there is no limit on detention. Further, detentions would have to be based on something more than a person's political beliefs, though prosecutors can detain individuals after acquittal if all appropriate appeals have been permitted. (Sung Un Kim, Malaysia Parliament Considering New Security Law, PAPER CHASE NEWSBURST (Apr. 10, 2012).)

There have been calls for reform of the Act from the international community, including from an advocacy group that organized a demonstration against the Act in 2009. (Id.) The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, made a visit to Malaysia in June 2010. Although the report noted some progress on the issue of arbitrary detention, it recommended the abrogation of the Internal Security Act, along with several other laws, because of their being detrimental to human rights. (Reportof the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Addendum: Mission to Malaysia, A/HRC/16/47/Add.2 (Feb. 8, 2011) [scroll down page to access].)