UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon [official profile] urged Malaysian lawmakers on Thursday to observe international human rights standards when devising the country's new security act. Malaysia's Internal Security Act of 1960 (ISA) [text], which allowed the imprisonment of individuals deemed to be national security threats for up to two years without trial, was repealed [JURIST report] last year. In a speech given at a joint press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak [official profile] in Kuala Lumpur, the secretary-general called for the Malaysian government to "ensure that the replacement laws will be in full compliance with international human rights standards." Razak is expected to announce the replacement [AFP report] security act soon, possibly as early as next month.
The prime minister had originally announced the repeal of two of the country's strict security laws [JURIST report], including the ISA, as well as a review of other laws dealing with freedom of the press, in September 2011. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention [official website] recommended [JURIST report] last year that Malaysia repeal or amend its internal security laws. These efforts have been made in response to criticism for alleged rights violations, although the changes have not relieved scrutiny of the country's laws in other areas. In November 2011, Malaysia introduced legislation that will enforce new restrictions on public demonstrations [JURIST report], including a ban on street protests and other rules that opposition leaders believe are too repressive. Lim Chee Wee, President of the Malaysian Bar [advocacy website], criticized the new public demonstration legislation, stating that "[i]n its present form, the Bill is more restrictive than present law, and must be improved."