Malaysia: Suspension of that trial against the human rights defender Ms. Lena Hendry
MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS
Suspension of trial /
March 20, 2015
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.
Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the suspension of that
trial against the human rights defender Ms. Lena Hendry, Programme Coordinator of the human rights NGO Pusat
the information received, on March 10, 2015, the High Court of Malaysia ordered
the suspension of the trial against Ms. Hendry, pending a decision of the
Federal Court as to whether the Film Censorship Act 2002, under which she has
been charged, is constitutional. By doing so, the High Court disagreed with the
April 2014 decision by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court, which had ruled
that the charges
against Ms. Hendry were not in contradiction with Article 10(2)(a) of the
Federal Constitution (see background information).
Observatory welcomes the suspension of the trial against Ms. Lena Hendry and
calls once again upon the Malaysian authorities to drop all charges against her
since she has been targeted solely for her legitimate and peaceful activities
in defence of human rights.
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. 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 organisers 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
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 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).
Subsequently Ms. Lena Hendry’s lawyers
filed an application before the High Court challenging the charges against Ms.
Hendry under the 2002 Film Censorship Act, on grounds that they violate the
On April 11, 2014, the Kuala Lumpur
Magistrate’s Court dismissed Ms. Lena Hendry’s application after ruling that
the charges imposed a restriction reasonable and proportional against free
speech, in the interest of public security, order and morality and were not in
contradiction with Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.
If convicted, Ms. Hendry faces up to three
years’ imprisonment and/or a fine between 5,000 ringgit (about 1,163 euros) and
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, particularly by
immediately and unconditionally dropping all charges against her, 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
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. 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:
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:
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:
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.
March 20, 2015.
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:
- Tel. and fax: OMCT : +
41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1
43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
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 communities.