Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) Malaysian police have been abusing powers of preventive detention and should no longer be able to use internal security laws to sidestep courts and lock up suspects, an official inquiry found this morning.
The 634-page report by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Police Force, headed by a former judge, revealed some troubling information about public security in Malaysia. It found that police were brutal, inept and the most corrupt among the government's departments, with 5,726 formal corruption complaints in 1999-2003, recommending that the force be overseen by an independent watchdog.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has said he is forming a special panel to consider how best to implement the report's 125 recommendations.
The report also took a swipe at Malaysia's notorious Internal Security Act (ISA), which it says has been used to jail political dissidents for two or more years without trial. The Act itself is anti-Communist relic from the times of British colonial rule.
"Preventive laws are not necessary as they breach individual's human rights and deny one's right to be tried in the open court as provided under the constitution and universal human rights laws," the report said.
The Commission went further and demanded that anyone detained under the Act should appear before a magistrate within 24 hours of his arrest and should be allowed to see family and lawyers within seven days to seek legal representation. "This right has to be preserved," it insisted.
About 100 people are currently detained in Malaysian jails under the Internal Security Act; 60 of them are Islamic militants.