Home Media statements 2011 Media Statements Habeas corpus made meaningless!

Habeas corpus made meaningless!

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Aliran is deeply disillusioned with the judiciary. Instead of depending on technicalities and loopholes in the law, it should focus on fairness and justice.

It should be prominently and predominantly concerned with freedom and human rights of the citizens. When the freedom of individuals is deprived by dubious means, the judiciary should be uncompromising in defending that freedom.

Dr Jeyakumar and his five companions have been incarcerated since 2 July 2011. Nobody believes the accusations levelled against them. The whole exercise has turned into farcical nonsense.

They were initially accused of “waging war against the King”. But that accusation has been dropped now. What does this suggest with regard to the integrity of the police? It only means that they cooked up an excuse to detain them.

Then they were accused of reviving communism in this country. Images of past communists leaders printed on T-shirts in their possession do not support this theory. It is now no longer the contentious issue. What does this prove? The police are grasping at straws in desperation to justify their action. But it won’t do them any good.

Then the six were detained under the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 under the false pretence that they were a threat to public security. These six citizens are no goons or gangsters to pose any such threat. Nevertheless, they are accused of being a threat to national security. What does it prove? It only means that any flimsy grounds would suffice to detain any individual under this anti-democratic and draconic law, which blatantly denies a person his natural justice, including the right to defend himself or herself. But it won’t win support for the police.

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Ridiculously, the six are now projected as the prime movers of Bersih 2.0, when the entire country is aware that it is the coalition of 62 NGOs headed by Dato’ Dr. Ambiga Sreenevasan that was the sole mover of Bersih 2.0. These six are members of a political party and therefore had no role to play in Bersih 2.0, which excluded political parties from the Steering Committee of Bersih 2.0. What does it prove? It means that there is no respect for truth and the rule of law. But it is not going to help the police to shore up support for the Barisan Nasional.

It is under these circumstances that an application was made for a habeas corpus hearing to question the conduct of the police in detaining these six PSM members. After much haggling, 22 July was fixed for hearing. But now this hearing has been postponed to 5 August.

Any application under habeas corpus should – and must – deserve priority to ensure that it is heard almost immediately. There is an urgency that cannot be ignored. There is the question of justice that has to be addressed at the earliest possible time without any undue delay. This urgency is no longer there.

Whatever the reason for justifying this frustrating postponement, it will not look good for the judiciary. Its battered image – from previous absurd judicial pronouncements that had discredited the judiciary – will suffer a further ignominious blow. It appears that there is no saving grace for the judiciary!

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P Ramakrishnan
President
22 July 2011

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