23
Aug
15

No such thing as ‘illegal assembly’, BERSIH 4 cannot be banned

SUHAKAM CALLS FOR FULL ADHERENCE TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS PRINCIPLES OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY

PRESS STATEMENT

“SUHAKAM CALLS FOR FULL ADHERENCE TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS PRINCIPLES OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY”

KUALA LUMPUR (21 August 2015) – In anticipation of the proposed BERSIH 4.0 peaceful assembly to be held on 29 August 2015, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (the Commission) advises all parties concerned, including the organisers, authorities and public to fully respect and strictly adhere to the principles of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly which is a constitutional, political and fundamental human right.

The Commission refers to the recent statement by the Deputy Home Minister in that the police were right to ‘ban’ the BERSIH 4.0 assembly, and the decision of the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM) as reported in The Star on 21 August 2015. The Commission emphasises that following the repeal of Section 27 of the Police Act 1967, the concept of illegal assembly no longer exists in law, and accordingly, cannot be banned. As such, an assembly is to be considered peaceful if its organisers have clarified that its intentions are peaceful and have duly conveyed them to the authorities.

Consequently, the authorities not only have an obligation to protect peaceful assemblies, but should also take measures to facilitate them, and to comply with the many international human rights standards on the freedom of assembly as this right is protected constitutionally in Article 10 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution. The same right is enshrined in Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as a fundamental freedom.

While it is acknowledged that the police have a vast range of statutory powers and duties in relation to the policing of protests, these must not seek to prevent, hinder or restrict a peaceful assembly except to the extent allowed by the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA).

The Commission reiterates that any restriction must be lawful, and in pursuit of a legitimate aim such as in the interest of the security of the country or public order or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. However, the burden is on the authorities to provide convincing and compelling reasons to justify an interference with this right and to demonstrate that any interference would be proportionate.

…more
SUHAKAM CALLS FOR FULL ADHERENCE TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS PRINCIPLES OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF PEACEFUL ASSEMBLY
21 Aug 2015 – SUHAKAM

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