New law needed to protect human rights defenders, reforms committee told

Source: The Malaysian Insight

IN the new Malaysia, the state must recognise the need to protect human rights defenders and stop treating them as troublemakers, activists told the Committee on Institutional Reforms (IRC).

“Human rights defenders face threats from police and non-state actors like companies for speaking up for human rights, doing their job,” Josef Benedict, from Johannesburg-based global non-profit Civicus Alliance, told reporters after a meeting at Ilham Tower in Kuala Lumpur today.

“There is no (legal) protection mechanism for them, unlike in countries in Africa, Latin Africa and parts of Asia, where they are treated with greater respect. Here, they are still seen as troublemakers.”   Read more

ARTICLE 19 PRESS STATEMENT – Malaysia: Cease investigations of The Star newspaper and its journalists

Source: Article 19 Facebook

ARTICLE 19 condemns the investigation of five editors and a photographer from The Star newspaper under the Sedition Act and the Penal Code for sedition and religious hate. The Star is being investigated by police for their front page of 27 May, which featured a photograph of Muslims performing their Tarawih prayer (a prayer performed during Ramadan) underneath a summary of a story which was, headlined “Malaysian Terrorist Leader”. The newspaper immediately issued a formal apology on 28 May citing an “error of judgement”.

The Home Ministry issued The Star a show-cause letter on 29 May calling for the newspaper to explain why its publication should not be suspended under the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984. This Act seriously limits independence of the media and free expression, giving broad power to the Home Minister to revoke or suspend a permit for any period he considers desirable. Criminal investigations were then opened on 30 May despite an earlier apology published by The Star and the suspension of Editor-in-Chief, Datuk Leanne Goh Lee Yen and Executive Editor, Dorairaj Nadason. Read more

Drop charges against Malaysiakini, says NGO

Source: FMT News

Article 19 says the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 is ‘vague and sweeping’ and in need of ‘urgent reform’. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Article 19 has hit out at charges against Malaysiakini’s CEO and editor-in-chief over a video the news portal had carried criticising Attorney-General Mohamed Apandi Ali for clearing the prime minister of corruption allegations.

Article 19 called on the government to immediately drop the charges against Premesh Chandran, Steven Gan and KiniTV, which had aired the video in question.

The NGO said the charges, which were made under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA), underscored why the “vague and sweeping” legislation needed “urgent reform”.

“The increasing use of this law to target independent media and any online criticism of the government is seriously concerning, and also a clear violation of international human rights law on freedom of expression,” director of programmes David Diaz-Jogeix said in a statement today. Read more

Activists slam MCMC for forcing censorship on social media

Source: FMT News

NGO Article 19 wants Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission to retract advisory to ‘group admins’ on chat group dos and dont’s, and tell users they won’t be held responsible for content posted by others. Pic from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: An organisation fighting for freedom of expression has taken Malaysia’s internet authority to task over its recent “advisory” to administrators of social media groups, saying it was an attempt at getting users to act as censors for the government.

The Malaysian chapter of rights group Article 19, named after Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, said the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) should retract the advisory immediately.

It also wants MCMC to tell social media users that they cannot be held responsible for content created by third parties.

The NGO said in a statement that it considered the MCMC advisory as “seeking to deliver an implicit threat to social media users”. Read more

Activist: 3 charged every week under Communications Act

Source: FMT News

Pic taken from FMT News

Pic taken from FMT News

KUALA LUMPUR: Human rights activists say more people will likely be charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) as it is too vague and open to interpretation.

Speaking at the launch of a legal analysis on the Act today, Suaram representative Dobby Chew said about three people were charged every week.

“Some cases are very mundane,” he added.

“How can we protect these people? They can be people on the street, on the bus, writing on Facebook,” he said at the event, which was organised by Article 19, a Malaysian organisation that advocates freedom of expression and information.

Human rights lawyer Firdaus Husni added that the Act was open to interpretation.

“The law must be clear and precise. It should not be against political dissent. It will not encourage freedom of speech and expression.

“In fact, it will bring about selective prosecution,” she said.

Meanwhile, Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights representative Edmond Bon said the government should publish guidelines so that the Act was not open to abuse.

Such guidelines should state when and how the provisions in the Act were applicable, he said.

Also present at the event, held at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, was rights activist Khalid Ismath who is facing 11 charges under the CMA. Read more

Article 19 Legal Analysis of Malaysia’s Communications and Multimedia Act

Source: Article 19

In February 2017, ARTICLE 19 analysed the Communications and Multimedia Act of Malaysia (the Act) for its compliance with international human rights standards, in particular the right to freedom of expression.

The Act has an expansive scope, ranging from spectrum allocation and consumer protection to content regulation and investigatory powers. The main subjects of regulation under the Act are applications services and network services. The Act further pertains to content applications services, which appear to include online intermediaries. The governmental actors involved in the administration of the Act are “the Minister charged with responsibility for communications and media” and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, which is established under the Act.

Launching Of Article

In the analysis, ARTICLE 19 concludes that the Act creates a number of overly broad content-related offences. In addition, the licensing scheme for network and applications services lacks adequate safeguards against censorship. Finally, the Act introduces far-reaching investigatory powers which are at odds with the protection of journalistic sources and the right to anonymity.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Malaysian Government to urgently review the Act, introduce necessary amendments and ensure it fully complies with the international freedom of expression standards. Read more

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