Malaysia
14.04.14
Urgent Interventions

Dismissal of the motion filed by Ms. Lena Hendry to strike out the charges against her

New information

MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.5

Judicialharassment

Malaysia

April14, 2014

The Observatory for the Protection of HumanRights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has receivednew information and requests your urgent intervention in the followingsituation in Malaysia.

Newinformation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliablesources about the dismissal of the motion filed by Ms. Lena Hendry, Programme Coordinator ofthe human rights NGO Pusat KOMAS[1],to strike out the charges that were filed against her under the FilmCensorship Act 2002 in relation to the organisationof a private screening of the documentary film called “No Fire Zone, theKilling Fields of Sri Lanka[2].

According to the information received, on April 11,2014, Kuala Lumpur High Court Judge Kamardin Hashim dismissed Ms. Lena Hendry’s application after rulingthat the charges imposed a restriction reasonable andproportional against free speech. The Court found that the restrictions imposedby the Film Censorship Act were not in contradiction of Article 10(2)(a) of theFederal Constitution, which allows laws to impose restrictions on a person'sfreedom of speech in the interest of public security, order and morality.

TheJudge also ordered the case to proceed in the Magistrate's Court. Meanwhile, Ms. Hendry’s counselsaid he would appeal to the Appeal Court against the decision.

Background information:

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 FireZone” directed by British Director Callum Macrae. About 30 minutes after thestart of the screening, about 30 officials from the Home Affairs Ministry,immigration, and police entered the Chinese Assembly hall and requested tocheck the film. The organisers negotiated with them to allow the screening tocontinue and enter after the screening was over.

However, after the screening, officialsinsisted on checking the identity cards of all participants before they leftthe venue. The KDN requested a copy of the film, which was provided by theorganisers. They also ordered the organisers - Ms. Anna Har, a member of KOMAS Board of Director, Mr. Arul Prakkash, KOMAS Executive Director, and Ms. LenaHendry - to go to the Dang Wangipolice station. The three asked whether they were being arrested, to which theofficers replied no. However, during their interrogation, they were informedthat they were placed under arrest. They were questioned for almost three hoursby the investigatingteam from the Home Affairs Ministry.

At about 2 am, the three KOMASrepresentatives were finally released on police bail after their statement wasrecorded. Reportedly, they were arrested under Section 6 of the 2002 FilmCensorship Act.

On July 1, 2013, Ms. Lena Hendry had receiveda call from the Censorship Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, who asked theorganisers to stop the screening because the film had not gone undercensorship. She had replied that the screening was private and upon invitationonly.

Furthermore, there were also attempts by theSri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia to stop the screening. They faxed a letter tothe KLSCAH asking them not toscreen 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 FilmCensorship Act, which says that no one should screenany film or related publicity materials that have not been approved by theCensorship Board. Judge Ashraf Razal Abdul Manan granted her bail of 1,000ringgit (about 233 euros).

Subsequently Ms. Lena Hendry’s lawyers filedan application before the High Court challenging the charges against Ms. Hendry under the 2002 Film Censorship Act, ongrounds that they violate 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) and30,000 ringgit.


Action requested:

Please write to the authorities in Malaysia, urging them to:

i. Put an end to any act of harassment, including atthe judicial level, against Ms. Lena Hendry as well as against all KOMASmembers and all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances that KOMAS and itsmembers as well as all human rights defenders in Malaysia are able to carry outtheir legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UNDeclaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of theUnited Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has theright, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strivefor the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms atthe national and international levels”, as well as

- its Article 12.2, which provides that the Stateshall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competentauthorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, againstany violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination,pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or herlegitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for humanrights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rightsstandards and international instruments ratified by Malaysia.

Addresses:


· Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin TunAbdul Razak, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s OfficeMalaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government AdministrativeCentre, 62502 Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia.Fax: + 60 3 8888 3444, Email: ppm@pmo.gov.my

· Mr.Ahmad Zahid Hamidi,Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Blok D1 & D2, KompleksD, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia. Fax: +60 38889 1613 /8889 1610, Email: webmaster@moha.gov.my

· Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairmanof the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Tingkat 11, Menara THPerdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia;Fax: +60 3 2612 5620; Email: humanrights@suhakam.org.my; hasmyagam@suhakam.org.my

· H.E. Mr. Mazlan Muhammad,Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations inGeneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc H (1st floor), Route dePré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 75 01. Email: malgeneva@kln.gov.my

· Embassy of Malaysia in Brussels, 414 A avenue de Tervueren,1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 50 49. Email: malbrussels@kln.gov.my

Please also write to the diplomatic missions orembassies of Malaysia in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Malaysia.

***

Geneva-Paris, April 14, 2014

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of thisappeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to theprotection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support intheir time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 143 55 18 80

[1] Pusat KOMAS has existed since 1993 and it has been on the forefront ofthe advocacy for democracy & human rights in Malaysia through creativemedia. They have highlighted many human rights issues involving grassrootscommunities.

[2] The documentary detailsallegations of war crimes committed during the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009.

Sign up now

Subscribe to our latest news & alerts