28 days detention under Sosma no defence
It is not that the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma) needs no review. Review is much needed. The unity government anchored by PH coalition cannot run away from abandoning Sosma at some point, an obnoxious draconian law against human rights.
It might be a lesser evil compared to the infamous Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Emergency Ordinance (EO) in terms of the period of detention. It is like saying that canning person 28 times is better than 60 times.
Completely a misguided and irrational logic.
ISA and EO have been rescinded some years ago. In short, Sosma was legislated to take the place of these two abandoned legislation.
The argument that Sosma allows only for 28 days detention without trial whereas the old laws provided 60 days is no defence of the former.
Detention without trial whether 28 days or 60 days is a non-starter in the first place. It is terrible affront to human rights and human dignity. No human being whatever his crime can be detained without access to trial.
However, saying that 28 days detention is better than 60 days doesn’t nullify the criticism that there cannot be detention without trial.
The 28 days detention under Sosma doesn’t mention the fact of the many days detainees can be kept in confinement long after the expiry of the original 28 days.
In some cases, detainees spend years in prison before they were found not guilty.
In other words, 28 days detention under Sosma is minimal without taking into account the days the detainees might have spend in remand and possibly after they have been sentenced by the court of law.
Citing the number of days in detention does not nullify the obnoxiousness of Sosma in regards to the practice of human rights.
It is also argued that the police only after careful investigation would enforce Sosma.
Careful and considered investigation presupposes the police might rely on evidence.
If there is evidence, why the need for 28 days under Sosma.
In fact, the police rely on Sosma because they don’t have the evidence.
If they have the evidence, the detainees could be charged under other existing laws.
So why rely on Sosma?
The presence of the unity government is no excuse to abandon the reformist agenda of PH.