Malaysia court rules ethnic Indian protesters legally detained

[JURIST] The Federal Court of Malaysia [official website] Wednesday rejected an appeal by five ethnic Indian protesters being detained by Malaysian authorities under a controversial security law. The five detainees, prominent members of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) [advocacy website; JURIST news archive], had appealed a judgment [JURIST report] by a lower court which found that their detention was legal under Malaysian law. The Federal Court heard arguments [JURIST report] from defense counsel for the detainees in April that the five were being "deprived of their personal liberty." In response, Malaysian Attorney General Adbul Gani Patail [official profile] defended the arrests [JURIST report] before the Federal Court, saying that the action was proper because the five are a threat to national security, and that the action was taken after a complete investigation. The group is being held under the Internal Security Act (ISA) [HRW backgrounder], a preventive detention law that allows that allows the Malaysian government to detain suspects for two years without trial and to renew the detention indefinitely. AP has more. Bernama, the Malaysian national news service, has local coverage.

The five activists were arrested [JURIST report] in December 2007 after they were accused of being involved in orchestrating a November 2007 street demonstration [TIME report] in Kuala Lumpur by thousands of the nation's ethnic Indians to protest alleged discrimination by the predominantly Malay Muslim government. The 2007 arrests were the first time since 2001 that Malaysia has invoked the ISA against government critics. Three Hindu activists originally arrested before the protest and charged with sedition were subsequently released [BBC reports]. In December, 26 ethnic Indians were charged with attempted murder [JURIST report] in connection with the Kuala Lumpur protest.

 

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