'Provide financial aid to families of ISA detainees'

  • Nation
  • Friday, 07 Mar 2003

KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry should provide families of Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees with financial support in lieu of the loss of income caused by the detention, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia said. 

Suhakam vice-chairman Tan Sri Harun Mahmud Hashim said the financial support should be provided because the detainees were not convicted criminals, and their dependents should not be made to suffer. 

“Presently, these dependents get nothing at all and have to depend on friends. It is the social responsibility of the Government,'' Harun told a press conference yesterday at the Suhakam office here after presenting the commission's Report of the Public Inquiry into the Conditions of Detention under the ISA. 

He said in some instances, the person detained was the sole breadwinner of the family, and all income was cut off when the person was taken in. 

“Some of them cannot even afford the weekly visits to the Kamunting detention centre,'' he said, adding that the Welfare Department was one possible avenue for a system to be put in place to help these families. 

Suhakam's three-person panel of inquiry also found one detainee worried that her daughters would be forced into prostitution, another detainee whose family was being supported by an opposition party, and some families were evicted for failing to pay rent. 

Harun said ISA detainees should also be allowed to work for wages to help support their dependents. 

He said the panel also received complaints from the Muslim detainees that they were not allowed to perform their Friday prayers while in Kamunting.  

“The prison authorities told us that the Perak mufti had issued a fatwa that those who were detained were not obligated to perform Friday prayers, and hence they were unable to allow the detainees to do so.''  

He said the reformasi group comprising Tian Chua, Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor, Saari Sungib, Hishamuddin Rais, Dr Badrulamin Bahron and Lokman Noor Adam chose not to participate in the inquiry because they wanted their lawyers to speak for them to say that they should not be detained.  

On another matter, Suhakam commissioner Prof Datuk Hamdan Adnan said he had found six detainees who had been in the Alor Star prison for five years waiting for their case to be heard in court, while another 20 had been waiting between three and four years.  

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