Activist seeks review of Film Censorship Act

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http://hakam.org.my/wp/2017/03/16/activist-seeks-review-of-film-censorship-act/
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Source: FMT News

Activist Lena Hendry (second from right) hands over her complaints to Suhakam commissioners Mah Weng Kwai (middle) and Jerald Joseph (second from right), pic from FMT News.

Activist Lena Hendry (second from right) hands over her complaints to Suhakam commissioners Mah Weng Kwai (middle) and Jerald Joseph (second from left), pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights activist Lena Hendry, who was recently found guilty of screening an uncensored film, is making a last-minute plea for a review of the law she was convicted under.

Facing a possible three-year jail sentence, she said the Film Censorship Act needed to be reviewed as the law was “quite outdated”.

She said it could be seen as a blanket ban on whoever had a video on their handphones that was not filtered by the authorities.

She said they could be found guilty because of that, she told Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioners Mah Weng Kwai and Jerald Joseph when filing a complaint against the law.

She added that the American Bar had also commissioned a study and found the Malaysian film law was “much more restrictive than other forms of censorship within Asia”.

“It is time to re-study the restrictions under the Film Censorship Act.

“It is not a crime to air a documentary, and that (it should) come with such severe punishments.”

Last month, Lena was found guilty by the magistrate’s court here for screening “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war.

Suhakam commissioners Mah Weng Kwai and Jerald Joseph (left) during the hearing of the complaint by activist Lena Hendry. Pic from FMT News.

Suhakam commissioners Mah Weng Kwai and Jerald Joseph (left) during the hearing of the complaint by activist Lena Hendry. Pic from FMT News.

The court ruled the defence had failed to cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s case.

Lena is to face sentencing on March 22. She is liable to a three-year prison sentence or a maximum fine of RM50,000 or both.

She was acquitted by the same magistrate in March last year. However, the High Court overturned the acquittal and ordered her to enter her defence on her charge under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act.

Mah, who chaired the hearing of Lena’s complaint with Joseph and officer Muhammad Faiz Abd Rahman, told Lena the human rights body will look into her complaint from the perspective of how the law is applied.

“For the court’s sentencing, Suhakam would not make any statement that may be deemed sub judice and be seen as interfering in the court’s decision.

“However, we will look into the bigger picture on the use of the Film Censorship Act on human rights documentaries … and the parameters of the law in banning a film,” he said.