Malaysia: Judicial harassment of several members of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0)

06/11/2015
Urgent Appeal
CC/ A satan incarnate

MYS 001 / 1115 / OBS 091
Judicial harassment
Malaysia
November 6, 2015

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

Description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the judicial harassment of several members of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih 2.0), a coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) created in 2006. Bersih 2.0 seeks to reform the current electoral system in Malaysia to ensure free, clean, and fair elections and to promote the respect of democratic rights [1].

From 2 p.m. on August 29, 2015, to midnight on August 30, 2015, a massive rally, dubbed Bersih 4.0, calling for democratic reforms in Malaysia was held in Kuala Lumpur. Smaller rallies were held in other cities, including Kuching, Sarawak State, and Kota Kinabalu, Sabah State.

According to the information received, on November 3, 2015, the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court charged Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah, organiser of the Bersih 4.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur and Chairperson of Bersih 2.0, under Article 9(5) of the 2012 Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA), for failing to give notice to the Brickfields police 10 days prior to the 34-hour rally Bersih 4.0 in Kuala Lumpur.

According to the information received, the Sessions Court judge fixed bail at RM 5,000 (approx. 1,070 Euros). Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah’s case will go to trial on December 11, 2015. She faces a maximum fine of RM 10,000 (approx. 2,150 Euros), if convicted.

Ms. Chin Abdullah is not the only Bersih member to be judicially harassed by the Malaysian authorities under the 2012 PAA. On October 21, 2015, the Magistrate Court charged Ms. Jannie Lasimbang, Vice-chairperson of Bersih 2.0 and organising committee member of Bersih 4.0 in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah State, on two counts under Article 9(5) of the 2012 PAA, for having organised the August 2015 gathering at Taman Awam Teluk Likas Park in Kota Kinabalu, without giving a 10-day notice to Kota Kinabalu City Hall prior to the event. She was also charged for failing to submit a copy of the consent letter from the owner or occupier of the place of assembly, as required under Article 10(c) of the 2012 PAA. Ms. Lasimbang was also charged under Article 15(3) of the PAA for organising the event without complying with the condition imposed by the city police chief to obtain the approval of City Hall to assemble on certain days and at certain times.

The Magistrate ordered Ms. Lasimbang to post bail of RM 6,000 (approx. 1280 Euros) for both charges, with a deposit of RM 1,000 (approx. 215 Euros) for each charge, and set the trial for November 23 and 24, 2015. As in the case of Ms. Chin Abdullah, Ms. Lasimbang is liable to a maximum fine of RM 10,000 (approx. 2,150 Euros) for each charge, if convicted.

The Observatory strongly condemns the ongoing judicial harassment of Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah and Ms. Jannie Lasimbang, which only aims at sanctioning their legitimate human rights activities, and calls on the Malaysian authorities to drop all charges against them.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Malaysia asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah and Ms. Jannie Lasimbang, as well as of other members of Bersih 2.0 and of all human rights defenders in Malaysia;

ii. Put an end to all forms of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Ms. Maria Chin Abdullah and Ms. Jannie Lasimbang as well as of other members of Bersih 2.0 and of all human rights defenders in the country so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrance;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular with its:

- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- Article 5(a), which stipulates that “for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels to meet or assemble peacefully”,

- Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or 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 the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

iv. Guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments signed or ratified by Malaysia.

Addresses:

- 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 / +60 3 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, 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 representations of Malaysia in your respective countries.

Paris-Geneva, November 6, 2015

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

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT 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:
Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel and fax FIDH +33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
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