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Malaysia

    April 07, 2015

    A new law that would allow terrorism suspects in Malaysia to be held indefinitely without charge, trial or judicial review, is a shocking onslaught against human rights and the rule of law, said Amnesty International.

    “Indefinite detention without trial is contrary to human rights law and it will not stop terrorism. Abandoning people to rot in a cell for years on end without a judicial process and proof that they have committed a crime is just like aimlessly stabbing in the dark. Authorities must ensure that human rights and fair trial guarantees are respected and protected,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Malaysia Researcher at Amnesty International.

    Under the newly enacted Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), a board will be established to approve detention or restriction orders for individuals “in the interest of security of Malaysia”. A suspect can first be detained for 59 days without charge before being presented to the board. This body, which will be appointed by the King and will be outside of the jurisdiction of any court, will have the power to renew detention orders indefinitely. Its decisions cannot be appealed.  

    March 23, 2015

    The arrests of scores of protesters as well as two human rights lawyers in separate incidents yesterday and today in Malaysia are the latest troubling signs of an escalating crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly, Amnesty International said today.

    “These latest in a string of recent arrests point to a clear and worrying trend and reveal the very grim reality of the Malaysian authorities’ stance on upholding basic freedoms,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher.

    “The space for dissent and debate in Malaysia is rapidly shrinking, under the guise of punishing ‘sedition’ or maintaining public order.”

    Mass detentions of protesters

    Today (23 March) at least 79 protesters were arrested at a sit-in protest outside the Customs Department in the Petaling Jaya area of Malaysia’s capital Kuala Lumpur. Around 40 riot police were sent to control the public action, and a “scuffle” was reported. Those arrested were among around 100 people protesting against a new Goods and Services Tax to be implemented in the coming weeks.

    February 17, 2015

    On 10 February 2015 Malaysia’s Federal Court, the highest court in the country,  upheld the decision of an appeal court to overturn opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal on long-standing ‘sodomy’ charges, which date back to 2008, and sentenced him to five years in prison.

    Amnesty International believes this is a deplorable judgment, and the latest chapter in the Malaysian authorities’ relentless attempts to silence government critics. This oppressive ruling will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country.  The ‘sodomy’ charges against Anwar Ibrahim have always been politically motivated, and he should be released immediately.

    Anwar Ibrahim is a prisoner of conscience – jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. Anwar Ibrahim stated that he is innocent of the charge; that it is the result of a political conspiracy to stop his political career - and that he will never surrender.  

    February 10, 2015

    A Malaysian court’s decision to uphold a “sodomy” conviction against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and to hand him a five-year prison sentence is an oppressive ruling that will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said.

    Malaysia’s Federal Court, the highest court in the country, today upheld the decision of an appeal court to overturn Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal on long-standing ‘sodomy’ charges, which date back to 2008, and sentenced him to five years in prison.

    “This is a deplorable judgment, and just the latest chapter in the Malaysian authorities’ relentless attempts to silence government critics. The ‘sodomy’ charges against Anwar Ibrahim have always been politically motivated, and he should be released immediately,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    February 05, 2015

    Malaysian authorities must immediately drop politically motivated sedition charges against a lawyer who could face up to three years in prison over a tweet criticizing an Islamic state agency, Amnesty International said.

    Eric Paulsen, a human rights lawyer and co-founder of the NGO Lawyers for Liberty, was today charged under Malaysia’s Sedition Act for a tweet he sent on 12 January 2015. The tweet called on the government to prevent the Department of Islamic Development (Jakim) from “promoting extremism”.

    “These politically motivated charges must be dropped immediately and unconditionally. It is ludicrous that someone could face three years in prison simply for a tweet critical of the authorities,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Research Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

    “Eric Paulsen is a known human rights defender, and has been targeted simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. If he is jailed, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience.” 

    October 27, 2014

    The Malaysian authorities should end their politically motivated persecution of government critics including Anwar Ibrahim, Amnesty International said ahead of the final decision in the long-standing ‘sodomy’ case against the opposition leader.

    “The ‘sodomy’ charges against Anwar Ibrahim are clearly politically motivated and a blatant attempt by the Malaysian authorities to silence and undermine a critical voice. If Anwar Ibrahim is jailed, Amnesty International will consider him a prisoner of conscience,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

    “Tomorrow’s decision also has to be seen in the context of a wider clampdown on critics in Malaysia. Over the past months, the authorities have increasingly made use of draconian laws to silence opposition voices and other activists – this must end.”  

    September 23, 2014

    The Malaysian authorities’ sedition investigation into opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is blatantly politically motivated and the latest move in a widespread crackdown on dissent using the colonial-era Sedition Act, Amnesty International said today.

    Police in Malaysia this morning announced that they are re-opening a sedition investigation relating to a speech given by Anwar Ibrahim, criticizing the government, made during a political rally in March 2011. He will be questioned by police on Friday 26 September 2014 and is, according to one of his lawyers, likely to be charged under the Sedition Act.

    “This case is clearly political and smacks of persecution – the investigation should be dropped immediately. Anwar Ibrahim has been a favourite target of the authorities for more than a decade, and this appears to be the latest attempt to silence and harass a critical voice,” said Rupert Abbott, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director.

    September 09, 2014

    Opposition politicians, human rights activists, lawyers, students, academics and journalists are at risk of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment in Malaysia after an alarming rise in the use of the draconian Sedition Act in recent weeks. The law is being used to target individuals for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression

    Since the beginning of August, at least eight people have been charged and are at risk of imprisonment for making so-called “seditious” statements under Malaysia’s Sedition Act.  This includes five opposition politicians, a journalist and an academic who have been charged under Article 4 of the Sedition Act which criminalizes the use of seditious words and publications.  Amnesty International is aware of at least 15 people charged or placed under investigation under the Act.

    June 23, 2014

     

    Malaysia’s ban on Christians using the word “Allah” to refer to God is an abuse against free speech and must be scrapped, Amnesty International said after the country’s highest court upheld the controversial government ban.

    “This ban violates the right to freedom of expression. The idea that non-Muslims could face prosecution for using a particular word is deeply disturbing,” said Amnesty International’s Malaysia researcher, Hazel Galang-Folli.

    “This ban is not just repressive, it is also dangerous. It risks further inflaming religious tensions in Malaysia by denying its people the right to freedom of religion.”

    The Malaysian government introduced the ban in 2007 after the word “Allah” was used in a Malay-language edition of the Catholic Church’s newspaper, the Herald.

    The Church appealed against the ban, arguing that “Allah” had been used to refer to the Christian God for centuries in Malay-language Bibles and other non-Muslim literature.

    March 13, 2014

    Malaysia’s authorities must immediately halt the execution of a Nigerian national suffering from mental health problems, convicted of a murder committed around 18 years ago, said Amnesty International.

    Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon is due to be executed on Friday 14 March at 6am local time (Thursday 13 March at 10pm GMT). He was diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia before his appeal in 2007 and has been receiving treatment for his mental health condition since then. He is currently being detained in Kajang Prison in Selangor state.

    “Malaysia’s authorities must immediately stop the execution of Osariakhi Ernest Obayangbon. According to international standards, the death penalty should not be imposed against people with mental disability,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Malaysia researcher.

    “Defying international standards to execute a person suffering from mental health problems is just shameful. What makes this case even more shocking is that there has actually been some progress on the death penalty in Malaysia in recent years, with moves to review mandatory death sentencing.”

    March 07, 2014

    The conviction of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on charges of ‘sodomy’ should be quashed, Amnesty International said.

    A court in Malaysia today overturned the acquittal of Anwar Ibrahim on politically motivated ‘sodomy’ charges. The court upheld a government appeal against a 2012 High Court decision that cleared Ibrahim of all charges, citing a lack of evidence.

    “This is a bleak day for justice in Malaysia. Anwar Ibrahim has been consistently harassed by the authorities for years in a blatant attempt to silence one of the opposition’s most important voices and bar him from participating in elections,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher.

    “Unfortunately this fits a broader pattern of severe restrictions on the right to freedom of expression in Malaysia. Opposition politicians, human rights defenders and civil society organizations are among those that have been targeted over the past year.”

    February 07, 2014

    The Malaysian government’s move to halt an execution scheduled for today is positive but the lives of hundreds of others on death row are still at risk, Amnesty International said.

    Malaysian authorities had planned to execute murder convict Chandran Paskaran today, but after an outcry from human rights groups announced a stay on the execution today.

    “We are glad that Chandran Paskaran will not be put to death today, but his life is still at risk – his death sentence must be commuted immediately,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “It is shocking that it took an outcry from human rights groups for this postponement to happen. What about the other secretive executions Malaysia is planning to carry out, that do not get the same attention?”

    In breach of international law, Chandran’s death sentence had been imposed mandatorily, giving the judge no chance to consider mitigating circumstances in the case. A review of Malaysia’s mandatory laws was announced in 2012.  

    February 06, 2014

    Malaysian authorities must immediately halt plans to carry out yet another “secretive execution” this Friday, Amnesty International said.

    Amnesty International has learned that the Malaysian authorities plan to execute death row prisoner Chandran on Friday 7 February who has been imprisoned for murder for 11 years. 

    “The execution of Chandran would be an enormous step backwards on human rights for Malaysia – the authorities must put a stop to these plans immediately,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Malaysia Researcher with Amnesty International.

    “For Malaysia to try to carry out executions in near-total secrecy is shameful – the government is essentially trying to hide its human rights violations from the world. Chandran’s family was informed only yesterday, and they are at a complete loss as to what they can do.” 

    Against international law, Chandran’s death sentence was imposed mandatorily, giving the judge no chance to consider mitigating circumstances of the case. A review of Malaysia’s mandatory laws was announced in 2012. 

    January 08, 2014

    Today’s attempt by Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs to ban the country’s leading coalition of human rights NGOs is a disturbing assault on the rights to freedom of expression and association, Amnesty International said.

    The Ministry alleged that the majority of the 54 groups that make up the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (COMANGO) are “un-Islamic”, lack official registration, and are therefore prohibited.

    “Outlawing COMANGO is a deeply disturbing action aimed at silencing important critical voices that have advocated on the world stage for Malaysia to uphold international human rights law and standards,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Malaysia researcher at Amnesty International.

    COMANGO responded to the move by saying that, as a coalition of different NGOs rather than a single organization, it is not bound by the requirement to register under Malaysia’s Societies Act, which dates back to 1966.

    October 31, 2013

    Today’s arrest of 19 people involved in a peaceful protest against the demolition of a historical village in Malaysia shows once again how the country’s authorities are taking a hard line against human rights defenders, Amnesty International said.

    “If any more evidence was needed that the Malaysian authorities are restricting the space for human rights defenders to operate, today’s arrests show plain and simple where their priorities lie,” said Isabelle Arradon at Amnesty International.

    In its August 2013 report submitted to the Human Rights Council, Malaysia pledged that development of civil and political rights in the country would “keep pace” with progress made on economic social and cultural rights. However, earlier this week Amnesty International and SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia), a leading Malaysian NGO, observed that this has so far been an empty promise.

    “Arbitrary arrests like this infringe on the right of protesters to peacefully exercise freedom of expression and assembly, and have a chilling impact on anyone engaged in defending human rights,” said Arradon.

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