Date: 6th February 2014
Place: Duta High Court
Specific Court: KL Criminal High Court 2
Judge: Kamardin Hashim J
Do support by coming for the trial and your support will show that freedom of expression can never be suppressed in Malaysia and the fight for it will continue.
We, the 116 undersigned civil society groups, trade unions and organizations are shocked that the Malaysian government, after the recent General Election has resorted to charging human rights defender Lena Hendry on 19 September 2013 for being involved in the screening of a documentary "No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka" at a human rights event in Kuala Lumpur on 9 July 2013.
The Act is also discriminatory as it does not apply, amongst others, to “...any film sponsored by the Federal Government or the Government of any State...”. The government does not need to obtain approval from the Censorship Board, but everyone else is expected to do so.
At present, the practice of getting approval from the Film Censorship Board usually applies to films screened in cinemas and cineplexes to a paying audience. Even when it comes to television, it is believed that there may be no pre-requirement for getting approval from the Censorship Board for all that is shown except for feature movies.
The charging of Lena Hendry in September 2013 by the Malaysia government is seen as an effort to limit access to information and alternative views particularly those highlighting human rights violations and alternative perspectives. This violates individual and civil society and public rights to information, freedom of expression and opinion.
If the screening and usage of such material incites a criminal act, or violates another person’s rights, there are existing laws to address this. There is no requirement for any prior government approval or ‘censorship’.
In Reporters Without Borders’ 2013 World Press Freedom Index, Malaysia has fallen to its lowest-ever position because of the decreasing access to information. Malaysia embarrassingly dropped 23 places, and now ranks 145 out of 179.
Lena Hendry, has the right to ‘…freely publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms…’, and that should include the right to use films, documentaries and other video materials.
a) Call on the Malaysian Government to immediately and unconditionally drop the criminal charges against Lena Hendry;
b) Call for the repeal of provisions in the Film Censorship Act 2002 that obligates persons to seek approval of the government vis-à-vis the Film Censorship Board before a film, videotape, diskette, laser disc, compact disc, hard disc and other record of a sequence of visual images can be used;
c) Call on the Malaysian government to recognize, promote and respect human rights, including those contained in the UN Human Rights Defenders Declaration