Malaysia: Rights groups welcome Anwar Ibrahim’s release after more than three years of arbitrary detention

Kuala Lumpur, Paris, 16 May 2018: FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) welcome the early release of former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, following a pardon granted by Malaysia’s King today.

Anwar walked free from Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital in Kuala Lumpur, where he had been undergoing treatment to his shoulder.

“We welcome Anwar’s early release but reiterate that he should never have been imprisoned in the first place. The fact that his pardon coincided with the ousting of Prime Minister Najib Razak confirms that his prosecution was politically motivated,” said FIDH Secretary-General Debbie Stothard.

“The recent electoral victory of the opposition and the peaceful transfer of power is a hopeful sign for Malaysia. We encourage the new administration to place respect for human rights and the rule of law among its top priorities, amend or repeal repressive laws, including Article 377 of the Criminal Code, and refrain from politically motivated arrests,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

Anwar’s royal pardon paves the way for his return to politics, lifting the five-year ban on political activity previously imposed as a result of his latest conviction and prison sentence. Anwar was detained on 10 February 2015, after the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict him on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. FIDH observed both the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court hearings for Anwar and found that the proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials. Anwar was due to be released on 8 June 2018. His previous petition for a royal pardon in February 2015 was rejected by the Pardons Board.

Anwar’s detention was deemed arbitrary by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) in an opinion issued on 1 September 2015.

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