Malaysia
03.02.14
Urgent Interventions

Ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Lena Hendry as her case will be heard before the High Court on 6th February

New information

MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.4

Judicialharassment

Malaysia

February3, 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 ongoing judicial harassment against Ms. Lena Hendry, Programme Coordinator of the human rights NGO PusatKOMAS[1],in relation to the organisation of a private screening of the documentary filmcalled “No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”. The documentarydetails allegations of war crimes committed during the civil war in Sri Lankain 2009.


According to the information received, on February6, 2014, at 9am, the case against Ms. Lena Hendry will be heard before the Kuala LumpurCriminal High Court 2 after her lawyers filed an application before the HighCourt challenging the charges against Ms. Hendry under the 2002 Film Censorship Act.

The Observatoryrecalls that on September 19, 2013, the HomeMinistry and Attorney General Chamber (AGC) filed a charge against Ms. LenaHendry under Section 6 of the 2002 Film Censorship Act, which says that no one should screen any film or related publicitymaterials that have not been approved by the Censorship Board. Judge AshrafRazal Abdul Manan granted her bail of 1,000 ringgit (about 233 euros), and setthe next date for Ms. Hendry to appear in court to October 21, 2013. Onthat day, documents including the charge sheet, the police report, the layoutof the venue where the documentary was shown, and a copy of the film in DVDformat 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) and30,000 ringgit.

The Observatory reiterates its call on the Malaysian authorities to put animmediate end to the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Lena Hendry, as it is arbitrary sinceit merely aims at sanctioning her legitimate human rights activities.

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. At about 8.30 pm, about 30minutes after the start of the screening, about 30 officials from the HomeAffairs Ministry, immigration, and police entered the Chinese Assembly hall andrequested to check the film. The organizers negotiated with them to allow thescreening to continue 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. Lena Hendry- 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 November 25, 2013, the Magistrates' Court inKuala Lumpur rejected Ms. Hendry’s request to suspend the proceedings pendingher High Court challenge against the charges. The Magistrates' Court scheduleda final procedural hearing for March 17, 2014, and set the trial dates forMarch 31 to April 4, 2014.


Mr. Tan Jo Hann, a member of the Board of Directors of Pusat KOMAS, was alsosubjected to acts 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, February 3, 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:

  • 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

[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] See Observatory Urgent Appeal MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.1, issued on July 18, 2013.

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