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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 03:47 GMT 04:47 UK
Malaysia 'abuses terror suspects'
Police outside Kamunting prison, where suspects are being held
Human Rights Watch wants Malaysia to allow monitors into jails
The Malaysian authorities have been engaging in widespread mistreatment of terror suspects, according to the organisation Human Rights Watch.

Abuses have included beatings, burning with cigarettes and sexual humiliation, the New York-based organisation says in a report issued on Tuesday.

Some suspects have been told they will be handed over to the US authorities at Guantanamo Bay, it adds.

The Malaysian government has denied mistreating prisoners.

Kuala Lumpur is a close ally in Washington's "war on terrorism", and has shared intelligence with the US about al-Qaeda-linked operations in South-East Asia.

'Wild reports'

Human Rights Watch says about 100 terror suspects have been held without charge under Malaysia's Internal Security Act - some for almost three years.

US abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo shows what can happen behind closed doors
Sam Zarifi
Human Rights Watch
The report says detainees have been subjected to sexually humiliating interrogations and forced to stand semi-naked for long periods.

Human Rights Watch has urged the Malaysian government to allow independent monitors into its detention centres.

"US abuse of detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo shows what can happen behind closed doors," said Sam Zarifi, the group's deputy director for Asia.

Kuala Lumpur has rejected allegations of prisoner abuse.

Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar last week said recent reports of mistreatment were "wild".

He called on human rights groups to stop "harping on countries that have got a very good and clear track record".

Cover

Human Rights Watch says interrogators have used the US camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as a threat.

Detainees who refused to "cooperate" with Malaysian security officials were told they could be transferred to US custody there, the report says.

Aftermath of bomb explosion in southern Thailand in March
Thailand says its militants have supporters in Malaysia
"The Malaysian government uses Guantanamo as a sword and a shield," Mr Zarifi said.

"Abuses by US authorities in the 'war on terror' give cover to governments that abuse their own citizens."

Malaysia's Internal Security Act was approved in 1960 in response to a communist insurgency.

It allows for indefinite detention and in the past has been used against opponents of the governing UMNO party.

Since 2001 it has been widely invoked in the fight against militant groups.

Most of the 100-odd detainees are accused of being linked to the regional radical group Jemaah Islamiah.

Neighbouring Thailand has blamed recent attacks in the south of the country on Muslim militants with links to Malaysia.


SEE ALSO:
Malaysia targets terror websites
14 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Thai PM seeks Malaysia security
12 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Malaysia detains terror suspects
07 Mar 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Thai suspects 'admit JI links'
11 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
15 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: Malaysia
22 Mar 04  |  Country profiles


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