CIJ slams conviction of activist for screening documentary

Source: FMT News

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

Activist Lena Hendry is seen outside the courtroom after the film censorship case decision in Kuala Lumpur February 21, 2017. ― Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is the latest to criticise the conviction of activist Lena Hendry for screening a documentary on the carnage that took place in the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war.

CIJ said in a statement that Hendry’s conviction was a serious violation of the fundamental human right to access information and of freedom of expression.

“This demonstrates the targeting of civil society by the Malaysian government for promoting discussions on human rights and expression of political viewpoints.

“Censorship laws – whether impacting journalism or creative content – are drawn up and implemented arbitrarily, and historically abused to silence critical content.”

The statement also criticised “the politically motivated pressure” that led to the crackdown on the screening and eventual persecution of Hendry.

‘Human Rights Watch stated in its statement in 2013 that prior to the screening by Pusat Komas, where Hendry was working as a programme coordinator, an official from the Sri Lankan embassy in Kuala Lumpur met with the venue management and tried to persuade them to stop the screening.

“The Sri Lanka embassy was said to have communicated with the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Censorship Board to urge the film not be shown.”

On Feb 21, the Magistrates’ Court convicted Hendry for screening the documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, without the permission of the official film censors in July 2013. Read more

Media Statement: Accusations of Foreign Intervention Unfounded

Media Statement: Accusations of Foreign Intervention Unfounded
21 December 2016

We, a group of concerned civil society organisations, condemn the attempts by the Malaysian government to discredit human rights work through the vilification of international funding for civil society. We are committed in our pursuit towards creating an enabling environment for democratic participation and good governance.

We are gravely concerned by recent statements made by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, and the Malaysian police that about 15 to 20 organisations are being investigated for receiving overseas funding. The funds we receive, whether from local or international funders, are legal under Malaysian laws. There is clear documentation of the funds and multiple levels of oversight to ensure transparency and accountability, including laws in the funders’ countries of origin, scrutiny by Bank Negara, and the mandated audits of our organisational accounts. Read more

Putrajaya not keen on human rights so we looked elsewhere, NGOs say

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — Several human rights non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have insisted today that receiving foreign funds is legal, with clear documentation and oversight to ensure transparency and accountability.

The groups said they were forced to turn to foreign funding since the Malaysian government has allegedly not been consistent with their support of human rights, citing budget cuts for the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

“We are not government entities or businesses — our policies and programmes are not dictated by investments. Civil society organisations are guided by our constitutions and objectives in our programming, framed by fundamental human rights, and only then approaching potential funders with proposals. Read more

Media Statement: Accusations of Foreign Intervention Unfounded

Media Statement: Accusations of Foreign Intervention Unfounded
21 December 2016pdf

We, a group of concerned civil society organisations, condemn the attempts by the Malaysian government to discredit human rights work through the vilification of international funding for civil society. We are committed in our pursuit towards creating an enabling environment for democratic participation and good governance.

We are gravely concerned by recent statements made by Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, and the Malaysian police that about 15 to 20 organisations are being investigated for receiving overseas funding. The funds we receive, whether from local or international funders, are legal under Malaysian laws. There is clear documentation of the funds and multiple levels of oversight to ensure transparency and accountability, including laws in the funders’ countries of origin, scrutiny by Bank Negara, and the mandated audits of our organisational accounts. Read more

Google Hangout – #NetMerdeka: Regulating Malaysia’s Internet

NetMerdeka-1 NetMerdeka-2

Your Internet may change if the Communications and Multimedia Act is amended this May.

How will the amendment affect you?

Your internet. Your space. Your say.

Join the conversation with human rights advocates and journalists as we discuss potential impact.

Discussants:
* Boo Su-Lyn, Malay Mail Online
* Syahredzan Johan, Human Rights Lawyer
* Thilaga, Feminist Activist, Justice for Sisters
* Firdaus Abdullah, Blogger, Apanama
* Deborah Brown, Internet Rights Advocate, Association for Progressive Communications

Make yourself heard. Join us at http://www.bit.ly/NetMerdeka

Organised by the #NetMerdeka Coalition: CIJ Malaysia, EMPOWER, HAKAM, Cilisos, Sinar Project, Amnesty International Malaysia & SUARAM

Suing lying politicians doesn’t protect journalists, media group tells AG

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Malaysiakini reporter Kow Gah Chie is being investigated under Section 505(c) of the Penal Code for allegedly causing public mischief. ― Picture by Kamles Kumar

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 ― The Attorney-General’s suggestion that journalists sue politicians who lie about being misquoted does not protect the media from police investigations when they are instead accused of inaccuracy, a press freedom group said.

The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) highlighted the case of Malaysiakini reporter Kow Gah Chie, who is being investigated under Section 505(c) of the Penal Code for allegedly causing public mischief after Sarawak Barisan Nasional (BN) politician Dr Annuar Rapaee accused the journalist of taking his speech at a recent seminar in Sibu, Sarawak, out of context.

“While CIJ welcomes the AG’s acceptance of the reality of politicians lying about being misquoted, his solution seems topsy-turvy,” CIJ director Sonia Randhawa told Malay Mail Online recently.

“The onus should be on politicians to take action against false news reports, rather than on journalists to take action against politicians. This ignores how journalists rely on politicians as news sources.

“Further, in the recent case where a politician accused a journalist of lying, the journalist faced the threat of a police investigation. The proposed solution would not protect journalists from this threat,” she added.

AG Tan Sri Apandi Ali reportedly said at a recent talk that media outlets should take legal action against politicians who falsely claim to be misquoted or who renege on their own remarks, as this would hold public figures accountable. Read more

CIJ urges vigilance over more censorship after TMI block

Source: Malaysiakini

The people must be vigilant over the possibility of the government imposing further censorship after it blocked news portal The Malaysian Insider (TMI) yesterday, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) cautions.

“Malaysians should be very concerned with the increased cases of Internet censorship by the government in recent months, signalling worse days ahead for freedom of expression and information in Malaysia.

“We ask that Internet users in Malaysia be vigilant of further restrictions online, as it can impact access to vital information and possibly even lead to increase in cost of accessing information and technology,” CIJ said in a statement yesterday. Read more

Statement: CIJ calls on home minister to stop threatening media over 1MDB reports

A screengrab of Sarawak Report’s latest article, defending its expose that the leaked documents of PetroSaudi International are not tampered as alleged. – June 26, 2015.

A screengrab of Sarawak Report’s latest article, defending its expose that the leaked documents of PetroSaudi International are not tampered as alleged. – June 26, 2015.

Ed. – With updated Related Article Links

JUNE 26 — The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is dismayed at Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s recent threats against the media. Zahid warned that action could be taken against The Edge under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) and against Sarawak Report under the Communications and Multimedia Act in relation to reports on government-owned investment corporation 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The threats come in wake of the arrest of former PetroSaudi employee Xavier Justo in Bangkok on allegations of attempted extortion and blackmail. Zahid said that investigations revealed that data obtained by Justo in relation to PetroSaudi’s business dealings with 1MDB were tampered with and inaccurate facts were subsequently reported by The Edge and Sarawak Report. He also accused The Edge and Sarawak Report of spinning the facts.

Press freedom is a key component of any genuine democracy and is an important tool in holding the government to account. If there are any inaccuracies in media reports regarding those in government or government-owned corporations, these can be countered by those affected. Indeed, media statements by 1MDB responding to allegations have been widely carried in both the print and online media.  Read more