Malaysia intensified human rights crackdown in 2015, says Amnesty

Malaysia intensified human rights crackdown in 2015, says Amnesty

Malaysia “intensified” its crackdown on freedom of expression and other civil and political rights last year, the latest Amnesty International report on the State of the World’s Human Rights said.

The report for 2015/2016 to be released later today said this was evidenced from the use of the Sedition Act to silence government critics.

The act was also amended and its scope made wider to cover electronic media and include harsher penalties “such as mandatory and increased prison sentences”, the report said.

Amnesty added that the colonial-era law, which has been abolished in the United Kingdom itself, had been used to press charges against “at least 15 people” throughout last year. It mentioned political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Haque, better known as Zunar, as one of them.

The report also noted the passing of the National Security Council (NSC) Bill by Parliament last December.

The bill gives “emergency-like” powers to a committee headed by the prime minister to declare an area under emergency and conduct searches, arrests and seizures without warrants.

Critics say such powers should only be for the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as stipulated by the Federal Constitution.

Among other examples of repression noted in the report’s section on Malaysia was the Federal Court’s conviction of former opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges and the upholding of his five-year prison sentence.

Amnesty described the charges as “politically motivated and an attempt to silence government critics”.

The report also noted repression of the media with the arrests of journalists by police and Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission officers over a report “concerning the Kelantan state hudud bill or Islamic penal code”, in reference to the arrest of The Malaysian Insider editors in March last year.

It said the Printing Presses and Publications Act was still in use to impose restrictions on media outlets and publishing houses, and that licences for print publications were revocable by the home minister.

This makes it “difficult for independent outlets” to get publishing permits, it said.

Amnesty said there remained various laws used against peaceful protests last year, such as the Peaceful Assembly Act, the Sedition Act and sections of the Penal Code.

Section 124 of the code on “acts detrimental to parliamentary democracy” were most often used against peaceful demonstrators, it said.

Malaysia intensified human rights crackdown in 2015, says Amnesty
24 February 2016 – TMI


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