Promote Freedom of Expression, Not Sedition Act 1948

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemn the arrests and investigation under the Sedition Act 1948 by the Royal Malaysian Police and the deafening silence to the continued use of the Sedition Act 1948 by the Pakatan Harapan administration.

The investigation and attempts to criminalize against alleged obscene or rude messages by individuals against the royal institution is a violation of freedom of expression and the Pakatan Harapan administration should not propagate and enable the culture of censorship and criminalization of expression that was practised by its predecessor.

Continue reading “Promote Freedom of Expression, Not Sedition Act 1948”

Petition to the International Association of Prosecutors

Original petition can be found at http://www.defendersorviolators.info/petition-iap-2017

Dear members of the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate,

dear members of the IAP,

In the run-up to the annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) in Beijing, China, the undersigned civil society organisations urge the IAP to live up to its vision and bolster its efforts to preserve the integrity of the profession.

Increasingly, in many regions of the world, in clear breach of professional integrity and fair trial standards, public prosecutors use their powers to suppress critical voices.

In China, over the last two years, dozens of prominent lawyers, labour rights advocates and activists have been targeted by the prosecution service[1]. Many remain behind bars, convicted or in prolonged detention for legal and peaceful activities protected by international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Azerbaijan is in the midst of a major crackdown on civil rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, imposing hefty sentences on fabricated charges in trials that make a mockery of justice[2]. In Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey many prosecutors play an active role in the repression of human rights defenders, and in committing, covering up or condoning other grave human rights abuses[3].

Patterns of abusive practices by prosecutors in these and other countries ought to be of grave concern to the professional associations they belong to, such as the IAP. Upholding the rule of law and human rights is a key aspect of the profession of a prosecutor, as is certified by the IAP’s Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, that explicitly refer to the importance of observing and protecting the right to a fair trial and other human rights at all stages of work[4].

Maintaining the credibility of the profession should be a key concern for the IAP. This requires explicit steps by the IAP to introduce a meaningful human rights policy. Such steps will help to counter devaluation of ethical standards in the profession, revamp public trust in justice professionals and protect the organisation and its members from damaging reputational impact and allegations of whitewashing or complicity in human rights abuses.

For the second year in a row, civil society appeals to the IAP to honour its human rights responsibilities by introducing a tangible human rights policy. In particular:

We urge the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate to:

  • introduce human rights due diligence and compliance procedures for new and current members, including scope for complaint mechanisms with respect to institutional and individual members, making information public about its institutional members and creating openings for stakeholder engagement from the side of civil society and victims of human rights abuses[5].

We call on individual members of the IAP to:

  • raise the problem of a lack of human rights compliance mechanisms at the IAP and thoroughly discuss the human rights implications before making decisions about hosting IAP meetings;

  • identify relevant human rights concerns before travelling to IAP conferences and meetings and raise these issues with their counterparts from countries where politically-motivated prosecution and human rights abuses by prosecution authorities are reported by intergovernmental organisations and internationally renowned human rights groups.

Supporting organisations

Amnesty International

Africa Network for Environment and Economic JusticeBenin

Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern AfricaKwekwe

Article 19, London

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

Asia Justice and RightsJakarta

Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Chiang Mai

Asian Human Rights CommissionHong Kong SAR

Asia Monitor Resource CentreHong Kong SAR

Association for Legal Intervention, Warsaw

Association Humanrights.ch, Bern

Association Malienne des Droits de l’HommeBamako

Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement, Kyiv

Associazione AntigoneRome

Barys Zvozskau Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, Vilnius

Belarusian Helsinki Committee, Minsk

Bir-Duino Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek

Bulgarian Helsinki CommitteeSofia

Canadian Human Rights International OrganisationToronto

Center for Civil Liberties, Kyiv

Centre for Development and Democratization of InstitutionsTirana

Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, Moscow

Center for the Judiciary Watch of the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), Seoul

China Human Rights Lawyers Concern GroupHong Kong SAR

Civil Rights DefendersStockholm

Civil Society InstituteYerevan

Citizen WatchSt. Petersburg

Collective Human Rights Defenders “Laura Acosta” International Organization COHURIDELAToronto

Comunidad de Derechos Humanos, La Paz

Coordinadora Nacional de Derechos HumanosLima

Destination JusticePhnom Penh

East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders ProjectKampala

Equality MyanmarYangon
Faculty of Law – University of Indonesia, Depok

Fair TrialsLondon

Federation of Equal Journalists, Almaty

Former Vietnamese Prisoners of ConscienceHanoi

Free Press UnlimitedAmsterdam

Front Line DefendersDublin 

Foundation ADRA PolandWroclaw

German-Russian ExchangeBerlin

Gram Bharati SamitiJaipur

Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor, Yerevan

Helsinki Association of Armenia, Yerevan

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw

Human Rights Center AzerbaijanBaku

Human Rights Center Georgia, Tbilisi

Human Rights ClubBaku

Human Rights Embassy, Chisinau

Human Rights House Foundation, Oslo

Human Rights Information CenterKyiv

Human Rights MatterBerlin

Human Rights Monitoring Institute, Vilnius

Human Rights NowTokyo

Human Rights Without Frontiers InternationalBrussels

Hungarian Civil Liberties UnionBudapest

IDP Women Association “Consent”Tbilisi

IMPARSIAL, the Indonesian Human Rights MonitorJakarta

Index on CensorshipLondon

Indonesian Legal Roundtable, Jakarta
Institute for Criminal Justice ReformJakarta

Institute for Democracy and MediationTirana

Institute for Development of Freedom of InformationTbilisi

International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

International Partnership for Human Rights, Brussels

International Service for Human RightsGeneva

International Youth Human Rights Movement

Jerusalem Institute of JusticeJerusalem

Jordan Transparency Center, Amman

Justiça GlobalRio de Janeiro

Justice and Peace Netherlands, The Hague

Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, Almaty

Kharkiv Regional Foundation Public Alternative, Kharkiv

Kosovo Center for Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption – KUND 16, Prishtina

Kosova Rehabilitation Center for Torture Victims, Prishtina

Lawyers for LawyersAmsterdam

Lawyers for LibertyKuala Lumpur

League of Human RightsBrno

Macedonian Helsinki CommitteeSkopje

Masyarakat Pemantau Peradilan Indonesia (Mappi FH-UI), Depok

Moscow Helsinki Group, Moscow

National Coalition of Human Rights DefendersKampala

Netherlands Helsinki Committee, The Hague

Netherlands Institute of Human Rights (SIM), Utrecht University, Utrecht

NGO “Aru ana“, Aktobe

Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO), Bahawalpur

Pensamiento y Acción Social (PAS), Bogotá

Pen InternationalLondon

Philippine Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)Manila

Promo-LEX Association, Chisinau

Protection InternationalBrussels

Protection Desk Colombia, alianza (OPI-PAS), Bogotá

Protection of Rights Without BordersYerevan

Public Association DignityAstana

Public Association “Our Right”, Kokshetau

Public Fund “Ar.Ruh.Hak”Almaty

Public Fund “Ulagatty Zhanaya”, Almaty

Public Verdict Foundation, Moscow

Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Baku/ Tbilisi

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Lagos

Stefan Batory FoundationWarsaw

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Petaling Jaya

Swiss Helsinki Association, Lenzburg

Transparency Anti-corruption Center International , Yerevan

Transparency International Austrian chapterVienna

Transparency International Republika ČeskáPrague

Transparency International Deutschland, Berlin

Transparency International EU OfficeBrussels

Transparency International FranceParis

Transparency International GreeceAthens

Transparency International GreenlandNuuk

Transparency International HungaryBudapest

Transparency International IrelandDublin

Transparency International ItaliaMilan

Transparency International MoldovaChisinau

Transparency International NederlandAmsterdam

Transparency International NorwayOslo

Transparency International PortugalLisbon

Transparency International RomaniaBucharest

Transparency International SecretariatBerlin

Transparency International SloveniaLjubljana

Transparency International EspañaMadrid

Transparency International SverigeStockholm

Transparency International SwitzerlandBern

Transparency International UKLondon

UNITED for Intercultural Action the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities, Budapest

United Nations Convention against Corruption Civil Society Coalition

Villa Decius AssociationKrakow

Vietnam’s Defend the DefendersHanoi

Vietnamese Women for Human RightsSaigon

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human RightsHarare

Footnotes 

[1] As documented by a number of internationally renowned human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and the ICJ. See, for example, the HRW World Report 2017, China and Tibet, available at: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/china-and-tibet; China: call for action at UN on lawyers and other human rights defenders, available at: https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/UN-HRC34-China-JointLetter-Advocacy-2017.pdf.

[2]  The Functioning of the Judicial System in Azerbaijan and its Impact on the Fair Trial of Human Rights Defenders, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Netherlands Helsinki Committee 2016, available at: http://www.defendersorviolators.info/judiciary-in-azerbaijan.

[3] See, for example: Human Rights and the Professional Responsibility of Judges and Prosecutors in the Work of CCJE and CCPE. Observations to the CCJE-CCPE Joint Report on “Challenges for Judicial Independence and Impartiality in the Member States of the Council of Europe”, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights 2017, available at: https://www.nhc.nl/assets/uploads/2017/06/20170331-Observations-to-CCJE-CCPE-Report.pdf.

[4] Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors adopted by the International Association of Prosecutors on 23 April 1999.

[5] See, for example, Options for Promoting Human Rights Compliance by the International Association of Prosecutors, policy brief, October 2016

Petition to the International Association of Prosecutors

The Hague, 5 September 2017

Conviction of Lena Hendry Another Blow to Freedom of Expression!

For Immediate Release
21 February 2017

Conviction of Lena Hendry Another Blow to Freedom of Expression!
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) finds the decision to convict Lena Hendry by the magistrate court under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Board regrettable and flawed in nature.

The absence of adequate evidence led to Lena’s initial accquital was sound as there was a lack of evidence on part of the prosecution in their charges. The subsequent conviction of Lena on 21st February depart from this and utilized the flawed system in Malaysia which undo the presumption of innocence that serve as the foundation of any common law based criminal justice system. Convicting the defense based on their inability to prove beyond reasonable doubt of their innocence remains a blatant trangression against the right to fair trial and Lena’s conviction marks another injustice by the Malaysian criminal justice system.

On top of the manifest injustice in her conviction, the attempt to punish an individual for screening a documentary is reprehensible on many levels. A documentary is often made to serve as a historical record of an event that transpired and leaves a legacy or story that can be viewed by the future generations. Censoring or preventing documentaries from being screened does not protect the public but only serve to protect select groups by hiding an inconvinient truth and deprive future generations of important knowledge on history.

Furthermore an attempt to punish an individual for allegedly screening ‘No Fire Zone’ is contemptible to say the least as the act of preventing the screening tantamounts to protecting those who may have committed crime against humanity. if the Malaysian government seeks to protect others against genocide and crime against humanity, why is it now complicit in protecting those who may have commited crime against humanity.

SUARAM reiterate our strongest condemnation against the repression of freedom of expression by the Malaysian government and stand in solidarity with Lena Hendry in her fight for human rights and democracy!

In Solidarity
Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

Stop Intimidating and Punishing Human Rights Defender

For Immediate Release
11 January 2016

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemns the arrests of Sivarajan Arumugam, Silvarajah Erusam, Saiful Adli Jamian dan Mohd Afiq Bin Ayob under Section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 for attending a candle light vigil in Johor Bahru.

As the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 is in general a non-arrestable offence with power to arrest only in selected circumstances, the fact that some of them were arrested and detained overnight under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 was a clear abuse of power by the authorities. Based on this fact, the arrests and detention of those attending the candlelight vigil for Khairul Nizam can only be interpreted as an unconscionable attempt to intimidate and punish human rights defenders! Such an attempt to normalize such intimidation and abuse of power must be rejected and condemned!

On this note, SUARAM reminds the Royal Malaysian Police regarding Government of Malaysia’s commitment to the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution on Human Rights Defenders and our constitutional right to have peaceful assembly and demand the Royal Malaysian Police to cease with the campaign of intimidation against civil activists and stop the extrajudicial punishment!

In Solidarity,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

Stop the Intimidation and Release Khairul Nizam Immediately!

For Immediate Release
8th January 2016

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) strongly condemns the arrests of Khairul Nizam at his home in Kota Bahru on the 8th January 2016.

Despite Khairul Nizam’s willingness to cooperate with the police in the past, he was first arrested at IPD Dang Wangi when he willingly submitted himself for questioning on the 28th December 2015. The fact that the magistrate court rejected the application for remand by the police makes it clear that it is unnecessary for Khairul Nizam to be subjected to any form of detention at this juncture.

Even so, barely two weeks after his arrest at IPD Dang Wangi, Police that identified themselves as officers from IPD Kota Bahru arrested Khairul Nizam at his home in Kota Bahru in the morning of 8th January 2016.

Khairul Nizam was not informed of the reason for his arrests during his arrests and the Royal Malaysian Police have been slow in providing lawyers with the necessary information regarding his arrests and present whereabouts. Further, Khairul Nizam was immediately taken to IPD Johor Bahru after his arrests, this growing trend of local ‘extradition’ would undoubtedly bring hardship to those involved with his arrests.

The manner of his arrest and the failure to convey the reason of his arrest clearly contravenes with recognized international human rights principles and borderlines illegal based on established procedures.

The series arrests and prosecution of critics of the Government of Malaysia should not be a norm of Malaysia and MUST not be the task of the Royal Malaysian Police. On this note, SUARAM demands that the Royal Malaysian Police to release Khairul Nizam immediately and cease its intimidation against civil activists!

In Solidarity,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM