Saturday, December 15, 2007


Guantanamo Detention Centre

Definition of Draconian from Webster's Dictionary

\Dra*co"ni*an\, a.
Pertaining to Draco, a famous lawgiver of Athens, 621 b.c.

{Draconian code}, or {Draconian laws}, a code of laws made by
Draco. Their measures were so severe that they were said
to be written in letters of blood; hence, any laws of
excessive rigor.

Before I go any further, let me start by quoting the view of one particular blogger that attracted my attention pertaining to the detention of five Hindraf leaders under ISA for 2 years. This is how the blogger put it. QUOTE “The ISA is a draconian law. It has no place in the modern and mature society that Malaysia is. It has been condemned internationally and locally. The manner in which the ISA allows for subjective detention without trial is violative of the fundamental liberties of persons detained in a manner that cannot be justified in any circumstance” UNQUOTE

There are hundreds of bloggers outside there writing about the detention of the five Hindraf leaders under ISA. Some are worth reading and the rest are merely writing for the sake of updating their blogs. Is ISA really a draconian law and has no place in Malaysian modern and mature society?

Reginald Hugh Hickling (2 August,1920 - 11 February, 2007) - Draftsman of ISA

The original draftsman of the ISA was a British lawyer by the name of Reginald Hugh Hickling. He died earlier this year (11 February, 2007). ISA is still in use in countries such as Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei.

Preventive or executive detention without trial in Malaysia had its origins as early as 1930 during the British colonial regime. Essentially it was a political and administrative practice, exercised by the colonial government in power and aimed at individuals or groups who were deemed to be potentially dangerous to the State.

In 1948, when the armed struggle of the Malaysian Communist Party began, the British High Commissioner proclaimed a state of emergency by passing the Emergency Regulations Ordinance, which enabled the colonial government to detain persons for any period not exceeding one year, primarily to counter acts of violence.

When the Emergency ended in 1960 and the Emergency Regulations were repealed, the parliamentary debate on the ISA established that the ISA was enacted for the sole purpose of fighting the communist insurgency and that it was intended as a temporary measure until the communist threat was removed.

However, Parliament made the decision to continue with the ISA on the grounds that 600 armed terrorists still remained in the north and could still pose a threat. However, once the 1989 Bangkok Accord was signed and communist activity ceased altogether, the need to persist with the ISA is no longer tenable and becomes highly questionable.

Since 1960, the ISA has been amended repeatedly to enhance the discretionary powers of the police and the Minister of Home Affairs. In 1989, an amendment was made to disallow judicial review in any court of law.

Currently, there are three major laws in force in Malaysia which provide for detention without trial: the Internal Security Act 1960, the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969, and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Prevention Measures) Act 1985.

These laws enable the Minister of Home Affairs to detain a person for a period not exceeding two years on the suspicion or belief that the detention of that person is necessary in the interest of public order and security.

U.S. War on Terror and Guantanamo Detention Centre

A total of 2,996 were killed (confirmed dead = 2,948, reported dead = 24 and reported missing=24) during September 11, 2001 attacked on World Trade Centre (WTC) in New York. The United States of America War on Terror began almost immediately when Afghanistan under Taliban’s rule was the first victim of the US aggression. Afghanistan was attacked by the U.S on October 7, 2001 in response to 9/11 attack on the United States of America. The stated purpose of the invasion was to capture Osama bin Laden, destroy al-Qaeda, and remove the Taliban regime which had provided support and safe harbour to al-Qaeda.

All the Al-Qaeda suspects caught by the United States during the Afghanistan invasion were taken to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. The first batch of 20"detainees" arrived in January 2002, after a 20-hour flight from Afghanistan.

The prisoners wore orange overalls and some reports said they were sedated, their heads hooded, and they were chained to their seats and to each other. The U.S. calls them "unlawful enemy combatants," rather than "prisoners of war."

In early 2002, Washington promised to abide by the Geneva Conventions governing POWs – despite the men's status as detainees – but since the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, there have been increasing questions just what the United States policy is

The first open-air, high-security prison was known as Camp X-ray. The cells had a metal roof, but each was open to the elements. This precaution was taken in order for guards to be able to see prisoners at all times.

Camp X-ray was replaced in April 2002 by a newly-built long-term prison known as Camp Delta. The prison can accommodate up to 2,000 prisoners and features enclosed cells, each with its own flush-toilet and running water.

According to the U.S. State Department, in April 2005 there were about 520 detainees on the base from more than 40 countries. At that point, 232 detainees had left Guantanamo Bay: 149 were released and 83 were transferred to other governments.

In January 2005, the U.S. military revealed that 23 prisoners tried to hang or strangle themselves during a mass protest over several days in August 2003. There were 10 such cases on Aug. 22, 2003, alone. However, the military recorded only two of the 23 incidents as suicide attempts.

The military has reported 34 suicide attempts since January 2002.

In 2003, there were also 350 incidents of self-harm, including 130 "hanging gestures."

There are 558 people being held at Guantanamo, from Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and 39 other countries. One hundred and thirty-two of the listed prisoners are from Saudi Arabia, 125 are from Afghanistan and 107 are from Yemen.

The U.S. calls the detainees as “unlawful enemy combatants," instead of "prisoners of war." The detainees who were caught in Afghanistan during the U.S. invasion of the country were “Prisoners of War” as defined by the Geneva Conventions. But why did the U.S. called them “UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT”? The answer is simple, who dare to challenge the U.S.? They can say anything they like. After all the U.S. is the mother of everything including democracy, human rights, aggression, war on terror, UN Veto, weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and the world super power.

This coming January, 2008 will be the 6th anniversary of Guantanamo Detention Centre and there are still hundreds of prisoners being detained at the centre WITHOUT ANY PROPER TRIAL. What do you call this?

United Kingdom War on Terror

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday, July 25, 2007 told British Parliament that police need more time to question terror suspects in complex cases beyond the 28 days currently allowed before they are charged or released.

7/7 London Train Bombing (7 July, 2005)

He said there had been 15 attempts to attack Britain since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and that police now needed longer than a limit of 28 days to question suspects before they are charged with an offence or released.

The proposal to double the period terrorist suspects can be held without charge from 28 to 56 days is likely to be highly controversial, commentators said.

An attempt in 2005 to extend the detention period to 90 days resulted in a stinging parliamentary defeat for ex-prime minister Tony Blair.

Why did the British Government would like to double the detention period without charge from 28 days to 56 days and earlier to 90 days? Is the British Government going back to a Draconian Law?

Why did the U.S. call the Al-Qaeda suspects caught during Afghanistan invasion as UNLAWFUL ENEMY COMBATANT instead of POWs? Why are the Guantanamo detainees being imprisoned for almost six years without proper trial? This is even worst than the Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows a person to be detained only for a period not exceeding two years.

The U.S. was caught with their pants down when Al-Qaeda attacked WTC on September 11, 2001. All the while they thought their defence system is formidable. In retaliation, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to wipe out the Al-Qaeda and later Iraq to wipe out Saddam Hussein on the pretext of looking for Saddam’s Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD). Hell, they found nothing!

Washington and London are REACTIVE, whereas Kuala Lumpur is PROACTIVE. We do not have to wait for 3,000 innocent Malaysian people to die before we start thinking to detain the perpetrators for two years without trial. Just imagine if you are the Prime Minister of Malaysia, would you sacrifice the interest of 25 million people for the sake of 5 people? The answer is obvious. Any Head of States democratically elected by the people would put the interest of the people first before anything else, exactly what President Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair and Prime Minister Gordon Brown were doing. I don’t mean that I agree with what happen in Guantanamao Detention Centre, but it is based on a similar principle.

When Washington asked Kuala Lumpur to release the five Hindraf leaders detained under ISA, the answer given by Datuk Seri Najib, Deputy Prime Minister was simple. "RELEASE THE GUANTANAMO DETAINEES FIRST".

Now, back to our topic of discussion IS INTERNAL SECURITY ACT (ISA) A DRACONIAN LAW? I leave it to the readers to decide.

Sources : Websites of Kementerian Keselamatan Dalam Negeri, Washington Post Archives, Amnesty International and British Home Office

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