Open letter to the Prime Minister


The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) wishes to express its very serious concern regarding the sentence given today by the three-member Federal Court panel who unanimously dismissed ex-deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim’s final appeal.

This decision was taken after a session which lasted less than 20 minutes. The judge pronounced the sentence without reading the full 65-page written decision.

Mr. Anwar was convicted for "corrupt practices" and sentenced to six-year imprisonment by the High Court in 1999. He appealed against this decision and the hearing took place in March and April 2002. A FIDH chargée de mission attended this hearing.

The FIDH considers that, during the whole proceedings, the right to a fair trial was not guaranteed to Mr. Anwar. Indeed, Suaram, a leading human rights NGO, particularly noted various dysfunctions : the refusal of bail, allowing amendment of the charges at a late stage, expunging of evidence, compelling the defence to provide a summary of witnesses’ evidence in advance and ruling on their relevancy, disallowing witnesses from testifying, disallowing the defence of political conspiracy.

The judgement of the Federal Court shows once again the lack of independence of Malaysian judiciary.

It is clear that the Rule of law has become an empty word in Malaysia. This decision constitutes a blow for human rights defenders at the national and international level. The Malaysian authorities obviously further distance themselves from the democratic values that they pretend to uphold.

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