NGOs fear more arrests with proposed law against fake news

Source: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — Human rights groups have raised concerns that free speech could be curtailed by proposed legislation to curb fake news.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia chairman K. Arumugam said that in order for implementation of laws against fake news to be a success, the strengthening of other institutions like the judiciary and enforcement agencies had to take place first.

“The proposal to enact new laws to fight against fake news is also linked to the fight for greater freedom of expression because of the government’s intolerance in using existing laws like the Sedition Act 1948, the Official Secrets Act 1972, the Communications and Multimedia Act, among others,” he said.

Read more

Enough with ‘pondan’ and other media distortions of transgenders — Eric Paulsen

Source: Free Malaysia Today

BY ERIC PAULSEN

In the latest twist to the ongoing Nur Sajat saga, the well-known cosmetic entrepreneur bemoaned the preoccupation of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and the public over her gender identity.

“This gender issue… is like the country’s biggest issue,” she wrote in Malay on her Facebook page. She continued: “Should Nur Sajat’s issues really be the topic of conversation in this country? Think about it!”

Despite the public embarrassment, however, Nur Sajat’s story represents an opportunity to start a conversation that has been put off for far too long. Transgender persons in Malaysia are often vilified by means of misrepresentation in the news media.

Read more

Bilqis appeal: There are real crimes for govt to go after, say activists

Source: Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: A human rights NGO has questioned the government’s decision to appeal the acquittal of a woman who dropped balloons at an event attended by the prime minister and his wife in 2015.

Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) executive director Eric Paulsen also questioned the need to secure a conviction for a minor incident, adding that it was a “waste of resources”.

“Surely there are real crimes for the public prosecutor to go after?

“He must not forget that he acts as a guardian for public interest. What public interest is being served by continuously appealing such a petty matter?”

Read more

Our prison system archaic, says Paulsen

Picture of eric paulsen nur jazlan anwar

PETALING JAYA: The Home Ministry’s censure of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim for issuing statements from jail has prompted a human rights lawyer to denounce the Malaysian prison system as archaic. Pic drawn from Free Malaysia Today

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Speaking to FMT, Lawyers for Liberty director Eric Paulsen complained that the Malaysian system was, unlike progressive systems around the world, still based on the principle of punishment rather than rehabilitation.

“If we look at more progressive prison systems such as those in the Nordic states, we see that the prisons are aimed at rehabilitation rather than punishment and this means that prisoners retain many of their rights. including free speech, internet access and even the right to vote,” he said.

Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed recently warned Anwar against issuing statements without approval from prison authorities, saying it could affect his jail term.

“Lately, several statements have been issued by Anwar and I wonder whether he really made the statements,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

“If the statements were relayed through third parties and were not approved by the Prisons Department, then it is an offence that can affect the jail period.”

Read more

Court to hear application over constitutionality of Sedition Act on March 19

Source: The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: A Sessions Court here has fixed March 19 to hear an application by Padang Serai MP N. Surendran, lawyer Eric Paulsen and cartoonist Zunar to refer constitutional questions to the court about the Sedition Act 1948.

Judge Zaman Mohd Noor fixed the date when the case was mentioned before him on Wednesday (Dec 10).

Lawyer Latheefa Koya, who acted for the applicants, said they made the application under Section 30 of the Courts of Judicature Act 1964.

Latheefa said since the Federal Court had not resolved the question of “intention” by ruling that it must be proven under the Sedition Act, they could in fact proceed with the issue.

In their decision, a five-member Federal Court bench quashed the 2016 landmark decision, ruling that intention must be proven in every sedition case.

The latest decision means that the law has reverted to its previous position, and it only needs to be proven that the accused had made the seditious statement, without the need to prove the intention.

Read more

Independent judiciary: PPBM must keep its word, say lawyers

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Pic drawn from FMT News

An independent judiciary is a welcome idea, as there is little transparency nor accountability in the appointment and promotion of judges, says Paulsen. – Pic drawn from FMT News

SHAH ALAM: To realise an independent judiciary, it is important for all parties within Pakatan Harapan (PH) to be of one mind, said human rights lawyer Eric Paulsen.

“As a coalition, it will be difficult for any one top leader to make decisions on his own.

“Therefore, if an independent judiciary is on PPBM’s manifesto, then it is up to the coalition as a whole to keep that promise,” he said.

He was responding to a proposal by PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, at the party’s annual general meeting on Saturday, to restore the independence of the judiciary should PH take over Putrajaya in the next general election (GE14).

Paulsen said Mahathir must be reminded that it was during his administration that the judiciary came under its worst attack with the sacking of the then Lord President. Read more

Judiciary should determine sentence, not prosecutor

Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today hit out at the proposed bill to amend the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, saying it is for the judiciary to determine the sentence, not the prosecutor.

LFL executive director Eric Paulsen acknowledged that the bill allowed for the trial judge to sentence a drug offender to life imprisonment and whipping instead of handing out the death sentence.

However, he pointed out that this was only possible if the public prosecutor issued a certificate verifying that the convict had assisted an enforcement agency in disrupting drug trafficking activities within or outside Malaysia. Read more

Opposition lawmakers, member seek to challenge constitutionality of Peaceful Assembly Act

Source: The Malaysian Insight

TWO opposition assemblymen and a party worker who were charged for violating the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) by participating in a street protest two years ago, have applied to refer their case to the Federal Court on constitutional grounds.

Kuala Lumpur High Court judge Azman Abdullah stayed the proceedings today and said he would decide on December 13 whether the case would be referred to the Federal Court.

Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang, 37, Semambu assemblyman Lee Chean Chung, 36, and former political secretary to PKR vice-president Tian Chua, Rozan Azen Mat Rasip, 40 were ordered to by the magistrate’s court to enter their defence in August.

They were charged under Section 4(2c) of the PAA for participating in the “Kita Lawan” rally in March 2015 to call for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to be released and for Prime Minister Najib Razak to step down. Read more

Why treat children like hardcore criminals, asks lawyer

Source: FMT News

There must be a better way for the authorities to handle children who commit criminal offences, says Paulsen. Pic from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen has asked why the home ministry is treating children like hardcore criminals by detaining them under the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca) and Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma).

He explained that these two laws are too harsh for children and are supposed to be used against serious offenders like terrorists or hardcore criminals.

“This is shocking. Surely there must be a better way for the authorities to handle these children who commit criminal offences. You can charge them under ordinary laws.

“Poca has detention without trial, which means somebody can be locked up for two years and another two years without evidence. It is similar to the Internal Security Act (ISA).

“As for Sosma, even though there is a trial, pending the trial, the child is not able to get bail. This can go on for many years,” he told FMT. Read more

No excuse for Poca threat, say human rights groups

Source: FMT News

Paulsen: LFL is against all forms of preventive detention. Pic from FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Several human rights groups have criticised Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s warning that enforcement authorities will not hesitate to use preventive laws to detain those suspected of involvement in money-laundering activities.

The Citizen Action Group On Enforced Disappearance (CAGED), Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) and Bersih 2.0 agreed that a lack of witnesses or insufficient evidence was no excuse to put suspects under detention without a fair trial.

This came after Zahid said the police, in particular, would not compromise when acting against those who allegedly participate in illegal activities such as misusing bank accounts to make illicit payments.

“If there are no witnesses brave enough to provide information, or if there is insufficient evidence to press criminal charges against the suspects, the police will not be lenient in using the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (Poca),” he was quoted as saying. Read more