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Malaysia

    October 11, 2019

    Malaysia must start to fulfil its promise to abolish the death penalty in forthcoming legislation by ending its use for drug-related offences and eliminating the mandatory death sentence, Amnesty International said today, as it launches a new report to mark the World Day Against the Death Penalty.

    The report, Fatally flawed: Why Malaysia must abolish the death penalty, reveals the use of torture and other ill-treatment to obtain “confessions”, inadequate access to legal assistance, an opaque pardons process and other serious violations of the right to a fair trial that have put people at risk of execution.

    The report also highlights how 73% of those on death row – 930 people – have been sentenced to death for drug-related offences in contravention of international human rights law. Almost half are foreign nationals – including nearly nine out of ten women. More than half of them (478) are foreign nationals.

    March 14, 2019

    The announcement today that the mandatory death penalty will be abolished for 11 offences should be considered Malaysia’s first step towards total abolition of the death penalty.

    “The government has sadly reneged on its earlier commitment to abolish the death penalty in totality, but we urge the government to keep its promise to abolish the death penalty once and for all at the soonest opportunity,” Amnesty International Malaysia Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said today. 

    On 13 March 2019, Deputy Minister in charge of Law Mohamed Hanipa Maidin announced to Parliament that the Government is proposing to introduce sentencing discretion for 11 offences under the Penal Code and Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act 1971, which currently carry the mandatory death penalty. The change would leave the imposition of the death penalty at the hands of judges.

    January 15, 2019
    Justice for Bill Kayong

    Bill Kayong, a vocal advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Malaysia, was gunned down in broad daylight in June 2016. His relatives believe the murder could have been prevented if police had acted on reports of threats and harassment leading up the killing. Furthermore, although one person was prosecuted for the crime, the person or persons who ordered the killing have escaped justice.

    Unfortunately, this tragic story is far from unique.

    A new report by Amnesty International documents a widespread pattern of violence against Indigenous leaders and communities in Malaysia. This violence is taking place in the context of a longstanding failure by federal and state authorities in Malaysia to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples when their lands are targeted for resource development.

    This is a critical time in Malaysia.

    November 29, 2018

    Indigenous communities across Malaysia face relentless harassment, intimidation, arrest, violence and even death as they peacefully resist attempts to force them off land they consider ancestral, a report by Amnesty International reveals today.

    The report, “The Forest Is Our Heartbeat:” The Struggle to Defend Indigenous Land in Malaysia, documents the countless obstacles faced by members of Indigenous communities and those who advocate on their behalf across the country. Amnesty International’s investigation is based on dozens of interviews with Indigenous community members, village heads, local activists, members of civil society organizations, lawyers, academics and journalists across Peninsular Malaysia, as well as Sabah and Sarawak.

    “The government is failing to protect Indigenous peoples’ right to land, which on paper is recognized under Malaysian law,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Malaysia Researcher at Amnesty International. “Indigenous cultures are at risk of disappearing completely, together with Malaysia’s forests.”

    October 03, 2018

    Responding to the arrest of Hassan al-Kontar by Malaysian police, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher, said:

    “Hassan al-Kontar’s arrest is the latest misstep in a series of mishandlings of his case. It would be abhorrent to see him deported to Syria, given the critical situation there and the clear risks to his own safety. Malaysian authorities should respect the international principle of non-refoulement and find a humane solution to his ordeal.

    “The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) office in Malaysia should have access to him, which they have requested. They have recognized him as a ‘person of interest’ and he is entitled to international protection.”

    Background

    Hassan al-Kontar is a 37 year old Syrian national who was arrested and placed on remand by Malaysian police on 2 October 2018. With no option for onward travel, he has been in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) since March 2018. He does not wish to return to Syria, where he has refused to enlist in compulsory military service.

    September 04, 2018

    Responding to the news that a sentence of six strokes of caning has been carried out in a courtroom against two women in Terengganu state – reportedly witnessed by family members and government officials – after they were convicted of attempting to have consensual same-sex sexual relations with each other, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher, said:

    “This is a terrible day for LGBTI rights, and indeed human rights, in Malaysia. To inflict this brutal punishment on two people for attempting to engage in consensual, same-sex relations is an atrocious setback in the government’s efforts to improve its human rights record.

    “The caning of the two women is a dreadful reminder of the depth of discrimination and criminalization that LGBTI people face in the country. It’s a sign that the new government condones the use of measures that amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, much like its predecessor.

    August 15, 2018

    Responding to yesterday’s sentencing of two women to six strokes of caning and a fine of RM 3,300 after they were convicted of attempting to have sexual relations in Terengganu state, Gwen Lee, Amnesty International Malaysia’s Interim Executive Director said:

    “This deeply cruel sentence marks yet another severe setback in Malaysia’s treatment of LGBTI people, which is increasingly troubling.

    “Across the country, LGBTI people are facing a climate of growing discrimination and persecution. Rulings such as this only affirm that Malaysia is becoming a more hostile place for its LGBTI population.

    “Caning is a form of cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment amounting to torture and is prohibited under international law. As well as immediately overturning this brutal sentence, the Malaysian authorities must repeal the laws that impose these torturous punishments and ratify the UN Convention against Torture.”

    Background

    August 01, 2018

    We are thrilled to share this good news with all our supporters! The Malaysian authorities have acquitted and dropped all sedition charges against political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar "Zunar" Ulhaque and others. Zunar was facing prosecution for his peaceful political activities.

    Zunar was charged with nine sedition charges on 3 April 2015 for allegedly insulting the judiciary in tweets relating to then opposition leader and former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Anwar Ibrahim, after he was jailed on sodomy charges

    Thank you to all of those who sent messages of solidarity for Zunar as part of Write for Rights 2015.

    July 30, 2018

    Responding to news that the Malaysian authorities have acquitted and dropped all sedition charges against political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar “Zunar” Ulhaque, lawmaker R. Sivarasa and civil rights lawyer N. Surendran, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher, said:

    “Zunar, Sivarasa and Surendran have shown great courage in shining a spotlight on injustices such as corruption and abuse of power. Their acquittal is a positive development but the Malaysian authorities must do more to protect people who dare to speak out.

    “The new government must take this opportunity to usher in a new era for human rights by fully restoring freedom of expression and abolishing the 1948 Sedition Act, an archaic piece of legislation which has been repeatedly used to target dissenting voices. The authorities must also drop any other charges under the Act and, pending its repeal, ensure that no one else is arrested, investigated, charged or imprisoned under its draconian provisions.”

    Background

    July 11, 2018

    Amnesty International is deeply concerned by recent backlash against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Malaysia by several politicians, including the Minister of Religious Affairs, as well as threats against a prominent LGBTI activist. Amnesty International calls on the new government to condemn recent attacks against LGBTI people in Malaysia, adopt policies to protect LGBTI people from discrimination and ensure full enjoyment of their rights.

    Last week, Minister for Religious Affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa said that even though he has pledged to listen to the views of LGBTI people in the country, this should not be construed as overt support for LGBTI people.

    A member of Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), a conservative opposition party, then said that LGBTI people “infringe on society’s rights and the norms of humanity”, while the Deputy Head of Government in Kelantan State stated that “gays and lesbians” are “bigger issues” for the country, compared to a recent case of child marriage that was widely condemned both domestically and abroad.

    July 03, 2018

    Amnesty International Malaysia welcomes the 2 July announcement by Datuk Seri Nadzri Siron, deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Home Affairs, that the government of Malaysia has put the implementation of the death sentences of 17 prisoners on hold, pending the review of the country’s death penalty laws.

    The announcement comes only days after Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Deputy Prime Minister, confirmed the government’s commitment to consider abolishing the mandatory death penalty for all crimes.

    “We have long waited for the suspension of executions in Malaysia and yesterday’s announcement of a reprieve for 17 people fills us with hope for a new chapter in the protection and promotion of human rights in the country. This first step must promptly be followed by the total abolition of the death penalty for all crimes,” said Gwen Lee, Interim Executive Director at Amnesty International Malaysia.

    According to figures revealed by the deputy director of the Prisons Department, 1,267 people are under sentence of death in Malaysia, including 442 who have had their legal appeals finalized.

    May 16, 2018

    The release of long-time Malaysian opposition leader and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Anwar Ibrahim is a landmark moment for human rights in the country, the organization said today. 

    Anwar, who has twice been imprisoned on politically motivated “sodomy” and corruption charges, received a royal pardon following last week’s election win for the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by Mahathir Mohamad. Amnesty International has campaigned on Anwar’s case for 20 years. 

    “Anwar should never have been jailed in the first place, and his long overdue release is an important step towards the restoration of justice and human rights in Malaysia after so many years of political persecution by previous governments,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General. 

    May 16, 2018

    Finally! After 20 years of imprisonment Amnesty International’s prisoner of conscience and Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has been released. Anwar received a royal pardon following last week’s election win for the Pakatan Harapan coalition led by Mahathir Mohamad.

    Anwar’s freedom marks a victory for humanity in Malaysia. “This day should go down as a landmark moment for human rights in the country, but the new government must not stop here. Rather, this should be the first of many more positive changes,” said Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

    April 03, 2018

    Reacting to the news that the Malaysian lawmakers approved the “fake news” bill on Monday, James Gomez, Amnesty International’s Director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said:

    “The Malaysian lawmakers didn’t wait long to pass a vaguely worded, catch-all bill that can be – and will be – used to crack down on peaceful government critics. This bill cynically uses new Twitter jargon to pursue an old policy: criminalising free speech.”

    “The law which could be implemented within days doesn’t only impose tough penalties and gives arbitrary arrest powers for police but also allows charges to be brought against other countries’ citizens. It’s an overt assault on freedom of expression.”

    Background

    On Monday, the Lower House of the Malaysian parliament has approved a bill criminalizing “fake news”, which sets out fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($123,000) and a maximum six years in jail or both. The bill will be debated in the Senate as early as by Thursday this week. Once passed by both houses, the law may come into force within days.

    February 22, 2018
    Amnesty International publishes State of the World’s Human Rights report for 2017 to 2018 “Last year our world was immersed in crises, with prominent leaders offering us a nightmarish vision of a society blinded by hatred and fear. This emboldened those who promote bigotry, but it inspired far more people to campaign for a more hopeful future,” says Salil Shetty, head of Amnesty International

    The world is reaping the terrifying consequences of hate-filled rhetoric that threatens to normalize massive discrimination against marginalized groups, Amnesty International warned today as it launched its annual assessment of human rights.

    Nevertheless, the organization found that a growing movement of both first-time and seasoned activists campaigning for social justice provides real hope of reversing the slide towards oppression.

    The report, The State of the World’s Human Rights, covers 159 countries and delivers the most comprehensive analysis of the state of human rights in the world today.

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