Malaysia
20.09.13
Urgent Interventions

Ms. Lena Hendry charged under the Film Censorship Act

New information

MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.2

Judicialharassment

Malaysia

September20, 2013

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 SuaraRakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) that Ms. Lena Hendry,Programme Coordinator of the human rights NGO Pusat KOMAS[1],has been charged under the Film CensorshipAct for organising a private screening of the documentary film called“No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lankaon allegations of warcrimes committed in Sri Lanka during the civil war in 2009.

According to the informationreceived, on September 17, 2013, the Home Ministry (KDN) issued a noticeinforming Pusat KOMAS that Ms. Kena Hendry had to present herself on September 19 at the KualaLumpur Magistrate Court to be charged.

On September 19, 2013, the HomeMinistry and Attorney General Chamber (AGC) filed a charge against Ms. LenaHendry under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act 2002 - which says no one should screen any film or relatedpublicity materials that have not been approved by the Censorship Board. JudgeAshraf Razal Abdul Manan granted her bail of 1,000 ringgit, and set the nextdate for Ms. Hendry to appear in court to October 21, 2013. If convicted, Ms. Hendry is liable to a fine“ofnot less than five thousand ringgit and not more than thirty thousand ringgitor to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both”.

The Observatory reiterates its call on theauthorities of Malaysia to put an immediate end to the continuing judicialharassment of Ms. Lena Hendry, all Pusat KOMAS members as wellas against all human rights defenders in the country, as it is arbitrary andseems to merely aim at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities.

Background information:

In the evening of July 3, 2013, Pusat KOMAS,together with the KL & Selangor ChineseAssembly Hall Civil Right Committee (KLSCAH CRC), organised a private screening of “No FireZone” directed by British Director Callum Macrae. At about 8.30 pm, about 30minutes after the start of the screening, about 30 officials of the KDN, immigration officials and the police entered the ChineseAssembly hall and requested to check the film. The organizers negotiated withthem to allow the screening to continue and enter after the screening is over.

However, after the screening, said 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 in soft copy. 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 Wangi police station.The three asked whether they were being arrested, to which the officers repliedno. However, during their interrogation, they were informed that they wereplaced under arrest. They were questioned for almost three hours by the investigating team from the KDN.

At about 2 am, the three KOMASrepresentatives were finally released on police bail after their statement wasrecorded. According to the information received, they should find out if they will be charged with any offences in 30 days. Reportedly, they were arrested upon thebasis of Section 6 of the Film Censorship 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 strong attemptsby the Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia to stop the screening. They faxed aletter to the KLSCAH asking them not to screen thedocumentary. Although they wereinvited to the screening they did not show up.

Mr. Tan Jo Hann, a member of the Board of Directors of Pusat KOMAS, was also subjected toacts of harassment in mid-July 2013[2].

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, September 20, 2013

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:

  • E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
  • 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] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeal MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS064.2, issued on July 18, 2013.

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