Global Bersih strongly condemns the police harassment of human rights lawyer Fadiah Nadwa Fikri. The new Malaysian government must uphold democracy and free speech in keeping with its reform agenda, as outlined in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto for the 14thMalaysian General Election.
Fadiah was hauled up by the police on 11 July 2018 over an opinion article about the monarchy (1), and questioned under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 and Section 233 of the Communications & Multimedia Act 1998 (2).
On 17 July, Fadiah will face another round of interrogations under Section 9(1) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (failure to give notice). This charge is allegedly related to the solidarity gathering for Fadiah, who is also Global Bersih’s former Malaysia-based administrative coordinator, that took place during her first round of questioning (3).
These rounds of interrogation clearly constitute police harassment.
The Pakatan Harapan government pledged to repeal the Sedition Act, the Anti-Fake News Act and other draconian laws, as well as to amend problematic sections of other laws such as the Peaceful Assembly Act (4).
Global Bersih urges the new Mahathir government to fulfil these promises as soon as the new Parliament sits for the first time this week. Meanwhile, there should be a moratorium on using these draconian and unjust laws which the new government has promised to repeal. We remind the Pakatan Harapan government that they were elected by Malaysians because of their promises of institutional reforms, in particular the enlarging of democratic space for expression and dissent. In fact, it was expression and dissent that paved the way for the ‘New Malaysia’.
The colonial-era Sedition Act is against the fundamental human right of freedom of opinion and expression. Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and UN Human Rights Committee maintain that the freedom of opinion and expression are the foundation of every free and democratic society.
It is time we got rid of draconian laws that have been used since the colonial era to suppress dissent and to persecute human rights defenders.
Malaysians have lived under a police state for too long. We demand immediate and real change. It is time for Malaysia to mature into a true democracy and to lead the ASEAN region in this direction. The international community applauded Malaysia’s peaceful transfer of power and its celebration of democracy since 9 May, and remains keenly interested in seeing the end of anti-democratic and unjust laws such as the Sedition Act being used against Malaysians.
Global Bersih calls on the international community to keep holding the Malaysian government to account and to make a stand if they see our human rights faltering. In particular, during her upcoming UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in November, we hope to see Malaysia set out a National Human Rights Action Plan which includes implementation of all recommendations accepted by the Barisan Nasional government during the 2013 UPR, as well as ratification of all core international human rights treaties, with clear and reportable timelines.
For further information, please contact Global Bersih at:
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(2) https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/75142 https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/75677
(4) http://pakatanharapan.com.my/diymanifesto http://www.thesundaily.my/news/2018/04/04/ph-vows-abolish-anti-fake-news-law