PRESS STATEMENT: 17 MAY 2013
SUARAM Urge the Charges against Nik Nazmi to be Dropped Immediately and Unconditionally
SUARAM condemns the move by the police and the Attorney General to charge Seri Setia Assembly-person Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) under the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) today (17 May 2013) for failing to give 10 days’ notice to the police for the May 8 Blackout 505 rally in Kelana Jaya Stadium.
SUARAM views this selective prosecution against Nik Nazmi as arbitrary and politically motivated and raises serious questions about the political neutrality of the police. These charges also highlight the ongoing failure of this government to respect freedom of expression and assembly.
Nik Nazmi was charged at the Petaling Jaya sessions court before judge Rozina Ayob and has been released without bail. The offence under Section 9(1) of the PAA carries a fine up to RM10,000 upon conviction, and Nik Nazmi could be disqualified as an elected representative if the fine exceeds RM2,000.
SUARAM is against the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) as it curtails the fundamental freedom of assembly enshrined in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution. The right to freedom of assembly is an intrinsic part of the right to freedom of expression which is guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international laws and standards.The Peaceful Assembly Act imposes a 10-day advance notice to authorities prior to holding an assembly. This is an onerous and unnecessary requirement intended to make it as difficult as possible for the people to convene any assembly.
In fact, the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly, Mr Maina Kiai in his report to the Human Rights Council in May 2012 has clearly stated that;
“Should the organizers fail to notify the authorities, the assembly should not be dissolved automatically and the organizers should not be subject to criminal sanctions, or administrative sanctions resulting in fines or imprisonment…[t]he Special Rapporteur holds as best practice legislation allowing the holding of spontaneous assemblies, which should be exempted from prior notification”
SUARAM urge the charges against Nik Nazmi to be dropped immediately and unconditionally.
If Prime Minister Najib Razak is sincere about making meaningful political reforms, these reforms must be made in the spirit of protecting and promoting human rights rights and fundamental freedoms.