Anwar Ibrahim marks three years in arbitrary detention

Press release

(Kuala Lumpur, Paris) FIDH and its member organization Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) condemn former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s ongoing arbitrary detention and reiterate their calls for his release, one day ahead of the three-year anniversary of his imprisonment.

“The fact that Anwar is still in jail after three years speaks volumes about Prime Minister Najib’s desperate attempt to keep Anwar away from the political scene. Anwar must be immediately released and his political rights should be fully reinstated.”

Debbie Stothard, FIDH Secretary-General

Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State, and is due to be released on 8 June 2018. However, the conviction renders him ineligible to stand as a candidate in the upcoming 2018 general election, (scheduled to be held by August 2018) unless he is granted a pardon by the King and is elected as a Member of Parliament (MP) in a by-election prior to the general election.

“Anwar’s unjust conviction and imprisonment has denied him his right to contest the 2018 general election. It’s time for the government to right this wrong and immediately free Anwar.”

Sevan Doraisamy, SUARAM Executive Director

In an opinion issued on 1 September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.


Anwar has been detained since 10 February 2015, when the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. FIDH observed the Court of Appeals and the Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial and found that the proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials.

Anwar’s family filed a petition for a royal pardon to the Malaysian King on 24 February 2015. The request was rejected by the Pardons Board, which advises the King on candidates for clemency, on 16 March 2015. On 24 June 2015, Anwar and his family filed a legal challenge against the Pardons Board’s decision. On 15 July 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Anwar’s challenge.

On 18 January 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled that Anwar has standing to petition the Federal Court to determine if he has the constitutional right to challenge the Pardons Board’s decision to reject his request for clemency. The case is scheduled to be heard in the Federal Court on 17 April 2018.

Press contacts
FIDH: Mr. Andrea Giorgetta (English) - Tel: +66886117722 (Bangkok)
FIDH: Ms. Audrey Couprie (French, English) - Tel: +33648059157 (Paris)
SUARAM: Mr. Sevan Doraisamy (English, Malay) - Tel: + 60169708370 (Kuala Lumpur)
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