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.

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

Malaysia: Release Anwar Ibrahim, arbitrarily detained for 1,000 days

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization in Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 6 November 2017: The Malaysian government must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today, to mark 1,000 days of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar, who turned 70 in August, remains incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“Today marks 1,000 days of shame for Prime Minister Najib Razak’s administration. Anwar should not have spent a single day in prison and the government has completely ignored UN calls for his release. Anwar must be freed now,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

In an opinion adopted on 1 September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary and called for his immediate release and the reinstatement of his political rights.

FIDH and SUARAM also reiterate their call for Malaysian authorities to guarantee Anwar’s rights, including his rights to receive adequate medical care in accordance with relevant international standards.

Anwar is suffering from continuous pain to his right shoulder, which was worsened by a recent car accident that took place during his transfer from Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (KLHG) to Sungai Buloh prison in late September 2017. At KLGH, Anwar received treatment for high blood pressure.

On 16 October 2017, during a prison visit by his family members, Anwar complained of not being able to move his right shoulder and perform basic functions like writing without suffering acute pain. Orthopedic specialists recommended that Anwar undergo a shoulder replacement surgery due to the tear in his shoulder rotator cuff. However, the prison’s medical facility in ill-equipped to perform such surgery and prison authorities have denied Anwar’s requests to receive surgery outside of the prison.

Rule 24 of the United Nations (UN) Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (also known as the ‘Nelson Mandela Rules’) states that prisoners “should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community.” Rule 27 stipulates that “prisons shall ensure prompt access to medical attention in urgent cases” and that “prisoners who require specialized treatment or surgery shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals.”

“The Malaysian authorities’ ongoing denial of Anwar’s right to receive adequate medical treatment while he is being arbitrarily detained is unconscionable. Prisoners have rights and Anwar should not be subjected to physical suffering that may amount to torture or ill-treatment,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

Background

Anwar Ibrahim has been detained since 10 February 2015, when the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict Anwar 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.

On 18 January 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled that Anwar has standing to petition the Federal Court to determine if he has the constitutional right to challenge the Pardons Board’s decision to reject his request for clemency. A date for the case to be heard in the Federal Court has not been set.

Anwar’s family filed a petition for a royal pardon to the Malaysian King on 24 February 2015. The request was rejected by the Pardons Board, which advises the King on candidates for clemency, on 16 March 2015. On 24 June 2015, Anwar and his family filed a legal challenge against the Pardons Board’s decision. On 15 July 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Anwar’s challenge.

If his bid to obtain clemency fails, Anwar is expected to be released by mid-2018, as a result of the Malaysian practice to grant a one-third reduction of jail terms to prisoners with good behavior. However, the conviction renders him ineligible to stand as a candidate in the next general election that must be held by 2018.

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33143551412 (Paris)

SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: + 60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)

Malaysia: Singaporean activist deported, barred from workshop

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization in Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

 Joint press release

Malaysia: Singaporean activist deported, barred from workshop

 

Kuala Lumpur, Paris, 23 June 2017: The Malaysian government must immediately lift the travel ban imposed on Singaporean activist Han Hui Hui, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) urged today.

FIDH and SUARAM condemn the Malaysian authorities’ decision to deport Ms. Han back to Singapore and prevent her from participating in a human rights workshop in Kuala Lumpur.

“Malaysian authorities treated Ms. Han as if she were a dangerous criminal. The travel ban imposed on Ms. Han limits her rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and must be lifted immediately,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

On 18 June 2017, Immigration Department officers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport prevented Ms. Han from clearing immigration and detained her for several hours. During the detention, plainclothes officers informed Ms. Han that she was blacklisted from entering Malaysia.

When a lawyer provided by SUARAM asked the immigration officers to provide the legal basis on which they relied to ban Ms. Han from entering Malaysia, the officers said the ban was issued under Article 8(3)K of the 1959/63 Immigration Act. The provision states that immigration authorities are authorized to bar any person who is deemed by the Home Affairs Minister to be “an undesirable immigrant” from entering the country.

Ms. Han had been invited to attend the Regional Youth Exchange Program organized by SUARAM from 19 to 23 June in Kuala Lumpur.

At 7:40pm, Ms. Han agreed to be deported back to Singapore. She boarded a flight back to the city-state at 9:45pm. During her five most recent visits to Malaysia, from April 2015 to the latest on 12 May 2017, Ms. Han did not encounter any problems entering the country.

“It is a sad state of affairs when the Malaysian government declares an activist persona non grata and prevents her from attending a human rights workshop. Ms. Han must be removed from the blacklist immediately and allowed to engage in peaceful human rights activities that are beneficial to Malaysians,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

In Singapore, Ms. Han has actively campaigned to promote government transparency and accountability, and for the respect of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. On 22 February 2017, Ms. Han was imprisoned for several hours in the Singapore State Courts lock-up on charges of causing a public nuisance under Article 290 of the Singaporean Criminal Code over a peaceful demonstration she had organized in September 2014.

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33143551412 (Paris)

SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: +60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)

Malaysia: Investigate two possible cases of enforced disappearance

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization in Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Malaysia: Investigate two possible cases of enforced disappearance

Kuala Lumpur, Paris, 16 May 2017: Malaysian authorities must immediately conduct swift, thorough, and impartial investigations into the disappearances of a social worker and a pastor, FIDH, its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), and the civil society coalition Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) urged today.

The three groups made the call a day after FIDH submitted two communications related to the cases to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).[1] Between 1980 and 2016, the WGEID received only two other cases of enforced disappearance in Malaysia – neither case is still open.

“It is extremely troubling that the specter of enforced disappearance has reared its ugly head in Malaysia. Malaysian authorities must immediately investigate the disappearance of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh in order to determine their whereabouts and safely return them to their families,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

FIDH, SUARAM, and CAGED also call on the authorities to take measures to protect those who are involved in the investigations from any act or threat of violence, intimidation, or reprisal. This includes complainants, witnesses, relatives of the disappeared persons, their lawyers, and NGOs.

Christian pastor and social worker Raymond Koh was abducted on the morning of 13 February 2017 in Petaling Jaya, Selangor State, while he was driving his car to meet a friend in a Petaling Jaya suburb. Mr. Koh never arrived at his intended destination. The examination of CCTV footage from various security cameras of houses near the place of his abduction showed a silver car, believed to be driven by Mr. Koh, being surrounded by three black SUVs. The SUVs forced Mr. Koh’s car to stop at about 10:30am. At least eight masked men dressed in black came out of the SUVs before a struggle ensued. Less than one minute later, video footage showed that both Mr. Koh and his car had been removed from the scene and driven away. Two cars and two motorbikes followed the convoy. To date, neither Mr. Koh nor his car have been found. Broken glass and Mr. Koh’s car license plate were later found at the scene.

According to an eyewitness account, Amri Che Mat, the founder of a local community NGO called Perlis Hope, was abducted on the night of 24 November 2016 after being stopped by a five-vehicle convoy roughly 550 meters from his house located in Kangar, Perlis State. Mr. Amri was on his way to meet a friend in Jitra, Kedah State. An eyewitness said that roughly 15 to 20 people were involved in the kidnapping. Eyewitnesses wanted to intervene but they made a retreat when they saw that the assailants were carrying firearms and had pointed them at Mr. Amri’s vehicle. Mr. Amri was forced into one of the kidnappers’ cars and the convoy drove off. On 25 November 2016, at 12:30am, a security guard at a school in Padang Besar, Perlis State (about 20km from Mr. Amri’s house), discovered Mr. Amri’s car moments after two vehicles had entered and then only one vehicle had left the school compound. The windscreen and side windows of Mr. Amri’s car had been smashed.

Several elements strongly suggest the involvement of individuals with ties to state actors in both abductions. First, the abductions appeared to have been carefully planned and were professionally executed, with both operations taking less than 60 seconds. Second, the abductors appeared to be well funded (they had several vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks) and – in the case of Amri Che Mat’s abduction – possessed firearms. Finally, to date, no ransoms have been demanded, nor have the families been contacted directly or indirectly by the abductors – a fact that suggests the abduction was not carried out for monetary gain.

Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar has made numerous public statements that illustrate animosity towards the parties demanding a thorough investigation and provided no meaningful information on the status of the police investigation.

On 6 March 2017, Mr. Khalid told a press conference “to please shut up” and allow the police to investigate Raymond Koh’s abduction. Khalid also dismissed allegations that government special forces were involved in Mr. Koh’s abduction. On 20 March 2017, Khalid said that the police investigations were at a stalemate and blamed the media and the publicity for the lack of progress. “To the media, individuals and NGOs who want to get involved in kidnap cases, shut your bloody mouth,” he warned. On 6 April 2017, Khalid was quoted by numerous news media as saying that instead of focusing on the abductors, police were investigating Mr. Koh’s activities. The police also criticized the dissemination of information about Mr. Amri’s disappearance on social media and claimed that it endangered his safety.

“Instead of trying to sweep these two serious crimes under the carpet, the Malaysian authorities must seriously investigate these two disappearances and inform the victims’ relatives about the progress and results of the investigations. The government should also immediately begin the process of ratifying the convention on enforced disappearance,” said SUARAM Executive Director and CAGED member Sevan Doraisamy.

Article 2 of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) defines enforced disappearance as “the arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the State or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person.” Articles 3 and 12 of the ICPPED impose on state parties an obligation to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into all allegations of enforced disappearances. Malaysia is not a state party to the ICPPED. However, the ICPPED codifies international law applicable to enforced disappearance and is universally applicable.

Press contacts:

FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)

FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33143551412 (Paris)

SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: +60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)

 


[1] The WGEID is a body that the United Nations established to assist families of disappeared persons in determining their fate or whereabouts. The WGEID receives and reviews cases of enforced disappearance and transmits them to governments concerned to request that an investigation be carried out in order to clarify the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared persons.

The International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, is an international human rights NGO representing 184 organizations from close to 120 countries. Since 1922, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.

Malaysia: Free Anwar, arbitrarily imprisoned for two years

FIDH – International Federation for Human Rights

and its member organization for Malaysia

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

Joint press release

Malaysia: Free Anwar, arbitrarily imprisoned for two years

Paris, Kuala Lumpur, 10 February 2017: Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, reinstate his right to run for political office, and award him compensation for the arbitrary deprivation of liberty to which he has been subjected, FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said today.

The two organizations make the call on the two-year anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“Anwar’s imprisonment is the result of a long-standing politically motivated persecution that must end today. The only way this ugly stain can be wiped from Malaysia’s human rights record is by immediately releasing Anwar,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

Anwar has been detained since 10 February 2015, when the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial and found that the proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials.

On 18 January 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled that Anwar has standing to petition the Federal Court to determine if he has the constitutional right to challenge the Pardons Board’s decision to reject his request for clemency. A date for the case to be heard in the Federal Court has not been set.

Anwar’s family filed a petition for a royal pardon to the Malaysian King on 24 February 2015. The request was rejected by the Pardons Board, which advises the King on candidates for clemency, on 16 March 2015. On 24 June 2015, Anwar and his family filed a legal challenge against the Pardons Board’s decision. On 15 July 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Anwar’s challenge.

If his bid to obtain clemency fails, Anwar is expected to be released by mid-2018, as a result of the Malaysian practice to grant a one-third reduction of jail terms to prisoners with good behavior. However, the conviction renders him ineligible to stand as a candidate in the next general election that must be held by 2018.

In an opinion issued on 1 September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

“The Malaysian government’s ongoing refusal to implement the UN’s ruling that found Anwar’s detention to be arbitrary is deplorable. It’s time for the government to stop ignoring findings from UN human rights mechanisms and immediately release Anwar,” said SUARAM Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy.

As long as Anwar remains incarcerated, FIDH and SUARAM reiterate their call for Malaysian authorities to guarantee him his prisoner rights – including the rights to receive adequate medical care in accordance with relevant international standards.

Press contacts:
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) – Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) – Tel: +33143551412 (Paris)
SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) – Tel: + 60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)