UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers has urged the Malaysian government to review the detention of the five Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) leaders and release them unconditionally.
In a letter to Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar, Param Cumaraswamy has urged that they should be released in the interest of justice and harmony in the country.
The five are being held for two years under the stringent Internal Security Act (ISA) and charged with sedition after they organised a protest rally on Nov 25 last year.
Cumaraswamy pointed out that one of those detained, M. Manoharan, was now an elected member of the state assembly in Kota Alam Shah.
This should be seen as a clear message that the electorate did not view him as a threat to state security.
He added that there was clearly no justification for the five to be detained any longer.
"Unite them with their families and allow Manoharan to serve his electorate effectively," The Star newspaper quoted him as saying.
Hindraf, an unregistered organisation, claims to speak for Malaysia's two million-plus Tamil Hindu settlers. It has been alleging that temples have been demolished and the community has been denied its due in terms of jobs and educational facilities.