Malaysia: Ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Lena Hendry as her case will be heard before the High Court on 6th February
MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.4
The Observatory for the Protection of Human
Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture
(OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received
new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following
situation in Malaysia.
The Observatory has been informed by reliable
sources about the ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Lena Hendry, Programme Coordinator of the human rights NGO Pusat
in relation to the organisation of a private screening of the documentary film
called “No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”. The documentary
details allegations of war crimes committed during the civil war in Sri Lanka
According to the information received, on February
6, 2014, at 9am, the case against Ms. Lena Hendry will be heard before the Kuala Lumpur
Criminal High Court 2 after her lawyers filed an application before the High
Court challenging the charges against Ms. Hendry under the 2002 Film Censorship Act.
recalls that on September 19, 2013, the Home
Ministry and Attorney General Chamber (AGC) filed a charge against Ms. Lena
Hendry under Section 6 of the 2002 Film Censorship Act, which says that no one should screen any film or related publicity
materials that have not been approved by the Censorship Board. Judge Ashraf
Razal Abdul Manan granted her bail of 1,000 ringgit (about 233 euros), and set
the next date for Ms. Hendry to appear in court to October 21, 2013. On
that day, documents including the charge sheet, the police report, the layout
of the venue where the documentary was shown, and a copy of the film in DVD
format were provided to the court.
If convicted, Ms. Hendry faces up to three years’
imprisonment and/or a fine between 5,000 ringgit (about 1,163 euros) and
The Observatory reiterates its call on the Malaysian authorities to put an
immediate end to the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Lena Hendry, as it is arbitrary since
it merely aims at sanctioning her legitimate human rights activities.
In the evening of July 3, 2013, Pusat KOMAS,
together with the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Civil Right Committee (KLSCAH CRC), organised a private screening of “No Fire
Zone” directed by British Director Callum Macrae. At about 8.30 pm, about 30
minutes after the start of the screening, about 30 officials from the Home
Affairs Ministry, immigration, and police entered the Chinese Assembly hall and
requested to check the film. The organizers negotiated with them to allow the
screening to continue and enter after the screening was over.
However, after the screening, officials
insisted on checking the identity cards of all participants before they left
the venue. The KDN requested a copy of the film, which was provided by the
organisers. They also ordered the organisers - Ms. Anna Har, a member of KOMAS Board of Director, Mr. Arul Prakkash, KOMAS Executive Director, and Ms. Lena Hendry
- to go to the Dang Wangi
police station. The three asked whether they were being arrested, to which the
officers replied no. However, during their interrogation, they were informed
that they were placed under arrest. They were questioned for almost three hours
by the investigating
team from the Home Affairs Ministry.
At about 2 am, the three KOMAS
representatives were finally released on police bail after their statement was
recorded. Reportedly, they were arrested under Section 6 of the 2002 Film
On July 1, 2013, Ms. Lena Hendry had received
a call from the Censorship Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, who asked the
organisers to stop the screening because the film had not gone under
censorship. She had replied that the screening was private and upon invitation
Furthermore, there were also attempts by the
Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia to stop the screening. They faxed a letter to
the KLSCAH asking them not to
screen the documentary.
On November 25, 2013, the Magistrates' Court in
Kuala Lumpur rejected Ms. Hendry’s request to suspend the proceedings pending
her High Court challenge against the charges. The Magistrates' Court scheduled
a final procedural hearing for March 17, 2014, and set the trial dates for
March 31 to April 4, 2014.
Mr. Tan Jo Hann, a member of the Board of Directors of Pusat KOMAS, was also
subjected to acts of harassment in mid-July 2013.
Please write to the authorities in Malaysia, urging them to:
i. Put an end to any act of harassment, including at
the judicial level, against Ms. Lena Hendry as well as against all KOMAS
members and all human rights defenders in Malaysia;
ii. Ensure in all circumstances that KOMAS and its
members as well as all human rights defenders in Malaysia are able to carry out
their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN
Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the
United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the
right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive
for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at
the national and international levels”, as well as
- its Article 12.2, which provides that the State
shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent
authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against
any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination,
pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her
legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;
iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human
rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights
standards and international instruments ratified by Malaysia.
· Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun
Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office
Malaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government Administrative
Centre, 62502 Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia.
Fax: + 60 3 8888 3444, Email: email@example.com
Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,
Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks
D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia. Fax: +60 3
8889 1613 /8889 1610, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairman
of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Tingkat 11, Menara TH
Perdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;
Fax: +60 3 2612 5620; Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Mr. Mazlan Muhammad,
Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in
Geneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc H (1st floor), Route de
Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 75 01. Email: email@example.com
· Embassy of Malaysia in Brussels, 414 A avenue de Tervueren,
1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 50 49. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or
embassies of Malaysia in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Malaysia.
Geneva-Paris, February 3, 2014
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this
appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the
protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in
their time of need.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
- Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 1880
 Pusat KOMAS has existed since 1993 and it has been on the forefront of
the advocacy for democracy & human rights in Malaysia through creative
media. They have highlighted many human rights issues involving grassroots
 See Observatory Urgent Appeal MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.1, issued on July 18, 2013.