Malaysian Lawmakers Pass Law Curbing Arrest Abuses

Posted April 17th, 2012 at 7:30 am (UTC-5)
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Malaysia's parliament has approved a law aimed at preventing police from detaining suspects indefinitely or arresting them for their political beliefs.

The legislation, passed Tuesday by the lower house of parliament, replaces the notorious 1960 Internal Security Act, a draconian law long used to detain opposition leaders and other government critics without trial.

The new law, which limits detentions without charge to 28 days, was introduced last week by Prime Minister Najib Razak, just months ahead of expected national elections. The legislation also says no one can be arrested on the basis of their “political affiliation, activity or belief.”

Opposition leaders and activists have welcomed the new legislation, which requires the formality of endorsements by parliament's upper house and the country's constitutional monarch before becoming law.

Some analysts say Mr. Najib was forced to back the legislation as his National Front party struggles to maintain its parliamentary majority in the face of opposition gains driven by demands for improved human rights and greater government transparency.