The American Bar’s Centre for Human Rights, in its report, says the application of Malaysia’s Sedition Act violates international standards and is far more restrictive than other Commonwealth nations with similar laws.
PETALING JAYA: The American Bar Association’s (ABA) Centre for Human Rights has stated that the application of Malaysia’s Sedition Act violates international standards and is far more restrictive than other Commonwealth nations with similar laws to reign in seditious behaviour.
“Malaysia’s Sedition Act is far more onerous than international norms proscribe and fellow Commonwealth countries currently employ,” the report stated.
The statement coincided with ABA’s report titled, “Malaysia’s Sedition Act Unlawfully Restricts Free Expression.”
The statement was also released in anticipation of the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s hearing on the constitutional challenge to the Sedition Act of 1948 slated for March 9, 2016.
The 22-page report outlined several findings in its cross-comparison research of Malaysia’s Sedition Act, including:
- Highlight of what it deems as abuse in its application against lawyer Eric Paulsen and political cartoonist Zunar.
- Too broad to meet international standards under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
- Does not adequately protect the right to freedom of expression granted by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- Violates international standard on restrictions on free expression by not serving a legitimate purpose and instead stifling debate about matters of public interest, including the conduct of public figures.
The centre’s study also drew attention to the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s warning that “extreme care must be taken” to ensure that sedition laws are not used “to suppress or withhold from the public information of legitimate public interest that does not harm national security or to prosecute journalists, . . . human rights defenders, or others, for having disseminated such information.”
The ABA goes on to enumerate the origins of sedition in the United Kingdom, which has since been abolished, leading to similar moves in Australia, and its current narrow application in the courts of Canada, India and South Africa.
In the latter group of countries, the report clarified that “sedition requires the offender to directly incite individuals to violence against the state.”