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Malaysia
07.04.21
Urgent Interventions

Malaysia: Attempts to intimidate human rights lawyer Charles Hector

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

MYS 001 / 0421 / OBS 041
Intimidation
Malaysia
April 7, 2021

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed about the attempts to intimidate Malaysian human rights lawyer Mr. Charles Hector for his work representing eight defendants who are opposing logging activities in the Jerantut Permanent Forest Reserve in Pahang State.

On January 14, 2021, Malaysian companies Beijing Million Sendirian Berhad Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sendirian Berhad[1] filed an application to the Kuantan High Court in Pahang State to commence contempt proceedings against Mr. Hector and his eight clients. On March 25, 2021, the court adjourned contempt proceedings against Mr. Hector and his eight clients to April 6, 2021 and then, again, to April 8, 2021. If found guilty of contempt, Mr. Hector could face a prison sentence, a fine, and/or the revocation of his licence to practice law. In the absence of a Contempt of Court Act, the court has complete discretion over the type of penalty that it can impose.

These proceedings stem from a letter Mr. Hector sent on behalf of eight of his clients to the Jerantut Forestry Officer on December 17, 2020, seeking clarifications on a letter the officer issued on February 20, 2020. The companies claim that this act is a violation of an injunction order dated November 5, 2020.

On February 20, 2020, following alleged disturbances by villagers opposing the logging activities by the two companies, Mr. Zarin Bin Ramlan, the Jerantut Forestry Officer issued a letter that led to the suspension of all logging permissions, including the permission to build an access road into the forest. On November 5, 2020, the two logging companies obtained a temporary court order that required the defendants to stop interfering and/or blocking the plaintiff’s workers from accessing a contested area in the Jerantut Permanent Forest Reserve. The temporary court order would last until the end of the trial, when the court will decide whether to order a permanent order.

The Observatory recalls that the villagers represented by Mr. Hector have been subjected to acts of harassment since 2013 when they started their peaceful protests for the conservation of the Permanent Forest Reserve of Jerantut.

The Observatory urges the Malaysian authorities to put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Mr. Charles Hector and all other human rights defenders in Malaysia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr. Charles Hector and all other human rights defenders in Malaysia;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Charles Hector, his clients, and all other human rights defenders in Malaysia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities and exercise their rights without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Addresses:

  • Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd. Yassin, Prime Minister of Malaysia. Email: ppm@pmo.gov.my
  • Dato' Sri Haji Wan Rosdy bin Wan Ismail, Chief Minister of Pahang State government. Email: mb@pahang.gov.my
  • Tengku Maimun binti Tuan Mat, Chief Justice of Malaysia, Email : faridahmsalleh@kehakiman.gov.my
  • The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM). Email: humanrights@suhakam.org.my
  • A G Kalidas Krishnan s/o Gnanaprakasam, President of the Malaysian Bar Council. Email: president@malaysianbar.org.my, council@malaysianbar.org.my
  • Mr. Michalis Rokas, Ambassador and Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Malaysia. Email: delegation-malaysia@eeas.europa.eu
  • Ms. Camelia Tudose, Human Rights Focal Point, Delegation of the European Union in Malaysia. Email: Camelia-Narcis.TUDOSE@eeas.europa.eu
  • H.E. Mr. Ahmad Faisal bin Muhamad, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Email: mwgeneva@kln.gov.my
  • Ms. Cynthia Veliko, Regional Representative of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in South-East Asia. Email: Cynthia.veliko@un.org

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Malaysia in your respective countries.

***
Paris-Geneva, April 7, 2021

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

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel. FIDH : +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18

· Tel. OMCT : +41 (0) 22 809 49 39


[1] The two companies are contractors of the state-owned foundation Pengurus Besar Yayasan Pahang.

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