Tuesday, 15 April 2014

OMCT and FIDH calls you to action in defence of Lena Hendry

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

New information
MYS 001 / 0713 / OBS 064.5
 Judicial harassment
April 14, 2014

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the dismissal of the motion filed by Ms. Lena Hendry, Programme Coordinator of the human rights NGO Pusat KOMAS[1], to strike out the charges that were filed against her under the Film Censorship Act 2002 in relation to the organisation of a private screening of the documentary film called “No Fire Zone, the Killing 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 ruling that the charges imposed a restriction reasonable and proportional against free speech. The Court found that the restrictions imposed by the Film Censorship Act were not in contradiction of Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, which allows laws to impose restrictions on a person's freedom of speech in the interest of public security, order and morality.

The Judge also ordered the case to proceed in the Magistrate's Court. Meanwhile, Ms. Hendry’s counsel said 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 Fire Zone” directed by British Director Callum Macrae. About 30 minutes after the start of the 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 and enter after the screening was over.

However, after the screening, officials insisted on checking the identity cards of all participants before they left the 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 of Director, Mr. Arul Prakkash, KOMAS Executive Director, and Ms. Lena Hendry - to go to the Dang Wangi police station. The three asked whether they were being arrested, to which the officers replied no. However, during their interrogation, they were informed that they were placed under arrest. They were questioned for almost three hours by the investigating team from the Home Affairs Ministry.

At about 2 am, the three KOMAS representatives were finally released on police bail after their statement was recorded. Reportedly, they were arrested under Section 6 of the 2002 Film Censorship Act.

On July 1, 2013, Ms. Lena Hendry had received a call from the Censorship Board of the Ministry of Home Affairs, who asked the organisers to stop the screening because the film had not gone under censorship. She had replied that the screening was private and upon invitation only.

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

Subsequently Ms. Lena Hendry’s lawyers filed an application before the High Court challenging the charges against Ms. Hendry under the 2002 Film Censorship Act, on grounds 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) and 30,000 ringgit.

Action requested:

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

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

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

iii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as
- its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;

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


·       Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office Malaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government 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 Home Affairs, 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 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 in Geneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc H (1st floor), Route de Pré-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 or embassies 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 this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
·       Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
·       Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] Pusat KOMAS has existed since 1993 and it has been on the forefront of the advocacy for democracy & human rights in Malaysia through creative media. They have highlighted many human rights issues involving grassroots communities.
[2] The documentary details allegations of war crimes committed during the civil war in Sri Lanka in 2009.

Source: OMCT Website

No comments:

Post a Comment