ARTICLE 19 launches Global Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy

Source: Article 19

PRESS RELEASE

7 March 2017, Geneva: Today, at a side event to the 34thsession of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), ARTICLE 19 launches The Global Principles on Freedom of Expression and Privacy, a ground-breaking document which provides a comprehensive, updated framework on the mutually reinforcing nature of these two rights in the digital world.

The Principles – developed in cooperation with high-level experts from around the world – aim to guide policy makers, legislators, the judiciary and civil society on how to ensure that the rights to freedom of expression and privacy are protected and where the balance should lie when they are in conflict, both online and offline. Read more

Doing it the Malaysian way — Kris Ruijgrok

Source: Open Democracy

Johor police chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Najmuddin Mohd said the suspect was arrested yesterday following a police report that he used WhatsApp to make an offensive remark. — AFP pic

AFP pic

Is internet a democratizing technology? Or is it first and foremost a tool for dictators to further control their populations? In a recently published article I used extensive quantitative research to demonstrate that increasing internet use has led to more protests in authoritarian regimes. However, although increasing use of the internet has facilitated mobilization, other researchindicates that the existence of the internet has not contributed to thedemocratisation of authoritarian states. How to make sense of that? The authoritarian regime of Malaysia illustrates how the internet can enable collective action without truly threatening an authoritarian system.

Ever since independence in 1957 the same ruling coalition, Barisan Nasional (BN), has been in power in Malaysia. Strict control over the traditional media has always been an important pillar of its rule. However, when the internet became available to a wider public in the late 1990’s the Malaysian government promised not to censor the internet, in order to attract foreign investment. At the time, this was not seen as a huge political concession: there was no ‘dictators’ dilemma’. Internet was understood in purely economic and not political terms. Also very few Malaysians had access to the web: it was not perceived as a mass medium and hence not threatening.   Read more

Activists: US report on Orang Asli land rights too shallow

Source: FMT News

Siti Kasim says Washington’s annual human rights report is an outdated view of Orang Asli land rights issue, adding that the report bases its argument on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law. Pic from FMT News.

Siti Kasim says Washington’s annual human rights report is an outdated view of Orang Asli land rights issue, adding that the report bases its argument on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Washington’s annual human rights report does not adequately address issues surrounding Orang Asli rights in the country, several Orang Asli activists have said.

Activist-cum-lawyer Siti Kasim pointed out that the US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 was too shallow as it merely interpreted the Orang Asli land rights issue in a “simplistic manner”.

“It’s partially correct if one were to solely focus on written law. But it’s an outdated view on Orang Asli land rights, based on a simplistic interpretation of the statute law,” she told FMT when contacted. Read more

Malaysia: 28,741 rape cases in last nine years!

Source: The Independent Singapore 

Pic from media.salon.com

Pic from media.salon.com

The recently released country report on Human Rights by the United States revealed that Malaysia saw a massive 28, 741 rape cases between 2005 and 2014.

These figures, the report said were according to women’s groups, indicates on average 10 women in the country were raped each day and more than half of these women were younger than 16 years.

This was covered under the Section 6, dealing with ‘Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons and Women.

According to the latest statistics from the Ministry of Home Affairs, only 16 percent (4,514 cases) of the rape cases were taken to court and 2.7 percent (765 cases) with guilty verdicts. Read more

Report lambasts controls on speech and press

Source: FMT News

The US Department of State says Putrajaya regularly enforces restrictions on freedom of expression. Pic from FMT News.

The US Department of State says Putrajaya regularly enforces restrictions on freedom of expression. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: A newly released human rights report has taken the Malaysian government to task for restricting freedom of the press and speech.

According to the US Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016, the government “regularly enforced restrictions on freedom of expression by media”, citing the need to uphold Islam, national security, public order and friendly relations with other countries.

The report, released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, said the law prohibiting sedition appeared to be used primarily on civil society or opposition leaders who claimed the government failed to investigate statements made by pro-government parties that violated the Sedition Act.

It noted that most print and broadcast media entities were either owned or controlled by political parties and individuals linked to the ruling coalition, and that independent online media outlets were often the target of legal action and harassment. Read more

Apex court throws out Jawi’s bid to appeal against Kassim Ahmad’s court victory

Source: The Malay Mail Online

In March 2015, Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad (pic) was charged at the Syariah High Court in Putrajaya with insulting Islam and defying religious authorities at a seminar in February.― Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the Malay Mail Online.

In March 2015, Muslim intellectual Kassim Ahmad (pic) was charged at the Syariah High Court in Putrajaya with insulting Islam and defying religious authorities at a seminar in February.― Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the Malay Mail Online.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — The Federal Court dismissed today a leave application by Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) and two others to reverse a Court of Appeal’s ruling favouring Muslim academic Kassim Ahmad.

The apex court panel lead by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum unanimously decided today to refuse granting permission to hear the merits of the appeal, after the previous appellate court declaration that Kassim’s arrest by Jawi was unlawful.

Malaysiakini reported that the panel, which also included Federal Court judges Tan Sri Zainun Ali and Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi, dismissed the appellants’ arguments regarding the jurisdiction of Civil Court in Shariah cases, and procedures of arrest and investigation.

The panel reportedly said the questions had been answered twice — when the Court of Appeal granted leave in Kassim’s appeal against High Court dismissing his leave application, and again when the same court heard his appeal and ruled in favour of him. Read more

Raw deal for Malaysia’s opposition, says US report

Source: FMT News

The human rights report criticises government control of EC and traditional media. Pic from the FMT News.

The human rights report criticises government control of EC and traditional media. Pic from the FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The US State Department has criticised the Malaysian government for practices that it says placed opposition political parties at a disadvantage in elections.

The department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 mentions, among other things, Putrajaya’s control over traditional media outlets and its grip on the Election Commission (EC).

The report on Malaysia said “irregularities” in the record of votes had affected the fairness of elections in the country, as had issues of gerrymandering.

It pointed to NGO reports in June 2016 that the EC had moved the names of more than 100,000 voters throughout the country to neighbouring constituencies without informing the voters or obtaining parliamentary approval.

The EC was reported as saying then that the voters were moved to polling centres closer to them to ease the voting process.

However, the US report said, the over-representation of some constituencies affected the 2013 general election, with many of Barisan Nasional’s victories coming in more heavily weighted rural areas. Read more

US report raps overcrowded prisons and re-arrest of suspects

Source: FMT News

It says prisoners have been physically hurt, and notes some 700 deaths in the last four years. Pic from FMT News.

It says prisoners have been physically hurt, and notes some 700 deaths in the last four years. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Washington’s annual human rights report has hit out at harsh conditions in Malaysia’s prisons and immigration detention centres, saying more than 700 detainees had died since 2013.

The US State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016 noted the overcrowded conditions of Malaysia’s prisons and detention centres especially in major cities, while criticising the procedures and treatment of detainees in general.

The report quoted government statistics that up to April last year, 721 prisoners had died, an average of 18 deaths per month.

But it said there were no official numbers on deaths at immigration detention centres.

The report, by the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, said prisoners were often caned, and NGOs and media were not permitted to monitor prison conditions. Read more

Will Hadi’s Bill resurface and why should we care?

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, March 7 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang is expected to explain during the month-long Parliament meeting starting today his Bill for harsher Shariah punishments.

Although the Islamist party president’s private member’s Bill was tentatively listed on the Dewan Rakyat’s Order Paper for today, it remains to be seen if it will actually be listed.

If it does appear in the Order Paper, this will be the fifth Parliament meeting where it makes its appearance, showing just how long PAS (and the government, to a certain extent) have been playing a “will they, won’t they” game with citizens on the controversial Bill.

Graphics by the Malay Mail Online

Graphics by the Malay Mail Online

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