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    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.

    August 07, 2013

    The Malaysian authorities’ are targeting a prominent human rights organization in what appears to be politically motivated harassment, Amnesty International said.

    On 5 August Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) announced that one of its volunteers, a prominent human rights defender, is being investigated for sedition following a fundraising dinner held on 19 July this year.

    “The authorities’ harassment and attempts to silence human rights organizations like SUARAM  run contrary to their duty to protect and promote human rights. It sends a chilling message to human rights defenders in the country, and must end,” said Isabelle Arradon, Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia Pacific Director.

    “The authorities should immediately clarify exactly why SUARAM is being investigated.”

    While the authorities have refused to comment on the specifics of the investigation, the dinner was held to raise funds for a court case pursued by SUARAM in France that relates to a corruption case involving the Malaysian government.

    July 25, 2013

    The Malaysian authorities must take immediate steps to end the alarming rate of reported deaths in custody, some as a result of torture or other ill-treatment, Amnesty International and Malaysian rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) said in an open letter today.

    Twelve people are known to have died in police custody since January 2013 compared to nine in the whole of 2012.

    “The rising number of reported deaths in custody is shocking, and sends a chilling message to all those at risk of arrests by police. They point to the lack of adequate systems in place to monitor and prevent such deaths,” said Hazel Galang, Amnesty International’s Campaigner on Malaysia.

    “The Malaysian authorities must commit time and resources to tackle this problem at once. They must ensure that there are appropriate safeguards so that the police cannot simply go on committing abuses, including torture and other ill-treatment, with impunity.”

    More than 230 deaths in custody have been recorded since 2000, according to the Malaysian Parliament.

    May 23, 2013

    Malaysia must end its post-election crackdown and release a member of parliament and other opposition political activists arrested under the repressive Sedition Act, Amnesty International urged today.

    Opposition activists Tian Chua MP, Ibrahim Harris and Tamrin Ghafar were arrested in Kuala Lumpur today under the Sedition Act, which the government last year promised to repeal.

    Meanwhile, student activist Adam Adli was charged under the Sedition Act for calling for street protests against alleged electoral fraud during the 5 May poll.

    Eighteen youth activists were also detained last night in Penang while holding a candlelit vigil for Adli, who was arrested last week.  

    "The Malaysian government must stop using the country's outdated Sedition Act and repressive provisions of the Penal Code to stifle the right to free expression and peaceful assembly," said Amnesty International's Asia Pacific deputy director Isabelle Arradon.

    "The authorities must release all  those who have been arrested solely for peacefully expressing their political beliefs, including dissenting opinions."

    February 07, 2013

    The Malaysian authorities must immediately release or formally charge two Malaysian men now detained under a repressive new security law, Amnesty International said.

    Early on Thursday afternoon, police arrested Yazid Sufaat and his co-worker Mohd Hilmi Hasim at a cafeteria in Kuala Lumpur, for allegedly promoting terrorist activities.

    It was the first known arrest under the new Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), which was introduced last April.

    “Sufaat and Hasim are being detained arbitrarily under a deeply flawed law that is not in line with international human rights standards,” Amnesty International’s Deputy Asia-Pacific Director Isabelle Arradon said.

    SOSMA, which replaced Malaysia’s previous Internal Security Act (ISA), fails to meet international human rights standards in several key ways – including by allowing police to detain suspects incommunicado for 48 hours, increasing the risk of torture, and by allowing detention without charge or access to courts for up to 28 days.


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