Malaysia
20.03.15
Urgent Interventions

Suspension of that trial against the human rights defender Ms. Lena Hendry

New information

MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS064.6

Suspension of trial /

Judicial harassment

Malaysia

March 20, 2015

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federationfor Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgentintervention in the following situation in Malaysia.

Newinformation:

TheObservatory has been informed by reliable sources about the suspension of thattrial against the human rights defender Ms. Lena Hendry, Programme Coordinator of the human rights NGO PusatKOMAS[1].


According tothe information received, on March 10, 2015, the High Court of Malaysia orderedthe suspension of the trial against Ms. Hendry, pending a decision of theFederal Court as to whether the Film Censorship Act 2002, under which she hasbeen charged, is constitutional. By doing so, the High Court disagreed with theApril 2014 decision by the Kuala Lumpur Magistrate’s Court, which had ruledthat the chargesagainst Ms. Hendry were not in contradiction with Article 10(2)(a) of theFederal Constitution (see background information).

TheObservatory welcomes the suspension of the trial against Ms. Lena Hendry andcalls once again upon the Malaysian authorities to drop all charges against hersince she has been targeted solely for her legitimate and peaceful activitiesin defence of human rights.

Background information:

In the evening of July 3, 2013, PusatKOMAS, together with the KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall Civil RightCommittee (KLSCAH CRC), organised a private screening of “No Fire Zone”directed by British Director Callum Macrae. About 30 minutes after the start ofthe 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 andenter 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 the organisers.They also ordered the organisers - Ms. Anna Har, a member of KOMAS Board ofDirector, Mr. Arul Prakkash, KOMAS Executive Director, and Ms. Lena Hendry - togo to the Dang Wangi police station. The three asked whether they were beingarrested, to which the officers replied no. However, during theirinterrogation, they were informed that they were placed under arrest. They werequestioned for almost three hours by the investigating team from the HomeAffairs 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 hadreceived a call from the Censorship Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, whoasked the organisers 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 bythe Sri Lankan Embassy in Malaysia to stop the screening. They faxed a letterto the KLSCAH asking them not to screen the documentary.

On September 19, 2013, the Home Ministryand Attorney General Chamber (AGC) filed a charge against Ms. Lena Hendry underSection 6 of the 2002 Film Censorship 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 lawyersfiled an application before the High Court challenging the charges against Ms.Hendry under the 2002 Film Censorship Act, on grounds that they violate theFederal Constitution.

On April 11, 2014, the Kuala LumpurMagistrate’s Court dismissed Ms. Lena Hendry’s application after ruling thatthe charges imposed a restriction reasonable and proportional against freespeech, in the interest of public security, order and morality and were not incontradiction with Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

If convicted, Ms. Hendry faces up to threeyears’ imprisonment and/or a fine between 5,000 ringgit (about 1,163 euros) and30,000 ringgit.

Action requested:

Please write to the authorities inMalaysia, urging them to:

i. Put an end to any act of harassment,including at the judicial level, against Ms. Lena Hendry, particularly byimmediately and unconditionally dropping all charges against her, as well asagainst all KOMAS members and all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

ii. Ensure in all circumstances that KOMASand its members as well as all human rights defenders in Malaysia are able tocarry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear ofreprisals;

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 the right, individually and in association with others, topromote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights andfundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as

- its Article 12.2, which provides thatthe State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by thecompetent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others,against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adversediscrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of hisor her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respectfor human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with internationalhuman rights standards and international instruments ratified by Malaysia.

Addresses:

• Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, PrimeMinister’s Office Malaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, FederalGovernment Administrative Centre, 62502 Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Fax: +60 3 8888 3444, Email: ppm@pmo.gov.my

• Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of HomeAffairs, Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia. Fax: +60 3 8889 1613 /8889 1610, Email:webmaster@moha.gov.my

• Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia(SUHAKAM), Tingkat 11, Menara TH Perdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 KualaLumpur, 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 ofMalaysia to the United Nations in Geneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC),Bloc H (1st floor), Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +4122 710 75 01. Email: malgeneva@kln.gov.my

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

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

***

Geneva-Paris,March 20, 2015.

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

The Observatory, an OMCTand FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders andaims to offer them concrete support in their 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 (0) 143 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] Pusat KOMAS has existed since 1993 and ithas been on the forefront of the advocacy for democracy & human rights inMalaysia through creative media. They have highlighted many human rights issuesinvolving grassroots communities.

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