New bill would end indefinite detentions

April 10, 2012 at 12:10 PM
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KUALA LAMPUR, Malaysia, April 10 (UPI) -- Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak introduced a bill in Parliament Tuesday that would put an end to indefinite detentions, officials say.

The bill, which is part of a package of measures Razak ensured will better protect civil liberties, would replace the Internal Security Act, The New York Times said. The controversial measure, introduced in 1960, allowed for the government to detain individuals suspected of terrorist activities indefinitely.

The Security Offenses (Special Measures) Bill 2012, proposed Tuesday, would limit indefinite detentions to 28 days, after which a judge would be required to either send the case to trial or free the suspect.

The Times reported between 2000 and 2010, nearly 4,500 people were detained under the Internal Security Act. By last September, authorities say 37 people were still being held under the law. Critics say the bill was used to silence government critics.

"This is a historic day for Malaysia and another major step forward on the road to reform," Razak said in a statement released Tuesday.

Other recent reforms have allowed students to join political parties, as well as establishing a parliamentary committee to propose improvements to the electoral system.

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