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Malaysia conditionally releases detainees held under controversial security law

[JURIST] Officials in Malaysia [JURIST news archive] on Sunday announced the release of 13 people who were detained under the country's controversial Internal Security Act (ISA) [text, PDF; HRW backgrounder], in a move called for Friday by Prime Minister Najib Razak [official website; BBC profile] in his first address to the nation [text, PDF]. Two ethnic Indian leaders of the banned Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) were among those removed from a detention center, but they remained in police custody [Malaysian Insider report] Sunday, and police said the 13 would be placed under "police supervision" [AFP report]. In his address, Najib also lifted bans on two newspapers and promised a "comprehensive review" of the ISA, which allows indefinite detention without trial.

In November, Malaysian High Court Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad ordered the release [JURIST report] of blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, finding insufficient grounds for his arrest under the ISA. In June, Malaysian rights group Suaram cited the continued use of the ISA in saying that human rights conditions in the country had worsened [JURIST report] in the past year. In May, the Federal Court of Malaysia [official website] rejected an appeal [JURIST report] by five ethnic Indian protesters being detained by Malaysian authorities under the ISA. In January 2008, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) [advocacy website, in French] called for Malaysia to lift the ISA [JURIST report], saying the law was being used to stifle peaceful dissent.

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