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Malaysian Lawmakers Approve New Security Law

FILE - Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (R) delivers a speech next to Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin during a special parliamentary session convened to discuss the MH17 tragedy at the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia's lower house of parliament has passed a measure that revives detention without charges for terrorism suspects in a move human rights workers decry as a step backward.

Malaysian lawmakers said the government needs The Prevention of Terrorism Act, that was approved Tuesday, to counter the threat posed by Islamic militants in Malaysia.

Human Rights Watch called the new law "a giant step backwards for human rights in Malaysia" and warned it was a revival of the Internal Security Act that was repealed in 2012.

"By restoring indefinite detention without trial, Malaysia has re-opened Pandora's Box for politically motivated, abusive state actions that many had thought was closed when the abusive Internal Security Act was revoked in 2012," Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director Phil Robertson said in a statement.

Malaysia's upper house of parliament and the king are expected to back the measure, allowing it to become law.

The passage comes two days after Malaysian security forces arrested 17 people who are suspected of planning attacks on banks, police stations, and military outposts in order to obtain weapons.

Two of the most significant arrests made Sunday were men who had trained with militants in Syria.

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