FAQ: The Prevention of Crime Act amendments

Following the repeal of the Emergency (Public Order and Crimes Prevention) Ordinance 1969, Putrajaya is now turning to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (PCA) to facilitate preventive detention and detention without trial.

The authorities claim that the Emergency Ordinance had served the country well, particularly against criminal organisations, and thus certain elements of the law must be retained and thus Putrajaya is trying to push for several crucial amendments to the PCA during the ongoing Dewan Rakyat session.

How drastic are the changes?

Essentially, the core structure of the PCA is retained, whereby a person suspected of having committed a registrable offense shall appear before an inquiry.

The registrable offenses is outlined in the PCA and generally cover crimes such as triad activities, drug trafficking and organised crime. If a person is found guilty by the inquiry, he will then be placed on a registry and will be subject to certain conditions.

The proposed amendments stipulates two conditions that can be imposed by a board through an inquiry, namely a detention order and a supervision order.

A detention order allows for detention without trial for a period of two years. This order can be extended by another two years by the board.

This order can only be applied if the inquiry has concluded that the registered person has committed two or more serious offenses and had contravened the conditions of the person’s earlier supervision order.

A supervision order allows for a registered person to be attached with an electronic monitoring device and imposes conditions such as restriction on internet use or meeting with other registered persons.

The supervision order is applied on a person in the registry who the inquiry has concluded had committed two or more more non-serious offences and had not received such an order before or had previously received a supervision order but had complied with all conditions imposed.

Does the home minister still call the shots?

Unlike the repealed Internal Security Act 1960 and the Emergency Ordinance, the minister will no longer have a free hand in ordering detentions.

Instead, detentions under the PCA can only be imposed by a three-member board, comprising a Federal Court judge, a Court of Appeal judge and a High Court judge.

Can you appeal against the board’s decision?

No. The newly introduced Section 15A(1) explicitly states that no judicial review is allowed against the board’s decision or findings in the exercise of its discretionary powers.

However, a judicial review is still applicable on matters concerning the board’s compliance with procedural requirements.

The requirements are spelled out in the newly included Section 7C that outlines the criteria a person must fulfill in order to be issued a detention or supervision order.

However, there is still a grey area, because while Section 15A(1) precludes judicial review for the board’s discretionary powers, Section 19A(2) allows for a High Court review of the board’s decision when ordering a detention or extending a registered person’s detention period.

FAQ: The Prevention of Crime Act amendments
Nigel Aw
Sep 25, 2013 – Malaysiakini

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