A new anti-terrorism law, which critics say gives Prime Minister Najib Razak sweeping powers, took effect Monday in Malaysia.
The new law which creates the National Security Council, led by Razak, can declare “security zones,” inside which arrests and seizures can be carried out without warrants.
The NSC can place an area under a security zone indefinitely until it deems that the threat has subsided.
The National Security Council, which would be composed of members of the ruling party, could be used to harass members of the opposition or critics of the government, according to social activist and political analyst Terrence Netto.
“This is a dangerous law since NSC can take action without explanations or justifications,” he told dpa. “Once an area is declared a security zone the police and security forces would only be accountable to the NSC.”
Amnesty International, which has been criticizing the law since it was passed in December, called for its immediate repeal.
“The Act places extraordinary, unchecked and potentially abusive powers in the hands of the National Security Council and contains provisions that are inconsistent with international human rights law and standards and the Federal Constitution,” it said in a statement.
“Amnesty International is strongly opposed to provisions in the Act that allow measures that would violate human rights and perpetuate the culture of impunity within the police and other security forces that currently exists in Malaysia.”
But the government defended the implementation of the law as necessary to address the problem of terrorism.
Last month, eight people were wounded in a grenade blast in a bar in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, which the police determined to be have been carried out by local supporters of the Islamic State terrorist group.