Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Syarikat balak tarik balik prosiding hina Mahkamah terhadap penduduk kampung, peguam(Malaysiakini)

 

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Syarikat balak tarik balik prosiding menghina terhadap penduduk kampung, peguam

Annabelle Lee

Diterbitkan

Dua syarikat pembalakan menarik balik permohonan mereka untuk prosiding menghina terhadap lapan penduduk Kampung Baharu, Jerantut dan peguam mereka, demikian dimaklumkan kepada Mahkamah Tinggi Kuantan hari ini.

Ini sebelum Hakim Zainal Azman Ab Aziz membuat keputusan mengenai permohonan prosiding penghinaan oleh syarikat Beijing Million Sdn Bhd dan Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd.

"Peguam pemohon memberitahu mahkamah bahawa anak guamnya menarik balik permohonan kebenaran ex-parte untuk memulakan prosiding penghinaan," kata M Ramachelvam, peguam yang mewakili penduduk kampung dan peguam Charles Hector Fernandez.

"Permohonan ex-parte (prosiding penghinaan) didengar di hadapan hakim Mahkamah Tinggi pada 8 April," katanya kepada Malaysiakini.

Katanya, peguam bagi pihak pemohon menyatakan penduduk kampung dan Fernandez telah melakukan penghinaan terhadap mahkamah kerana mengeluarkan surat kepada Pegawai Hutan Jerantut.

Ramachelvam (gambar, bawah) berkata, pemohon mendakwa ini melanggar perintah yang dikeluarkan oleh Mahkamah Tinggi terhadap penduduk kampung.

"Kami berhujah bahawa permohonan kebenaran perintah ex-parte tidak memenuhi syarat undang-undang dan prosedural untuk izin diberikan supaya memulakan prosiding penghinaan terhadap nama-nama (contemnors) yang dicadangkan itu," katanya.

Prosiding penghinaan itu dimulakan susulan surat yang dikirimkan oleh Fernandez kepada seorang pegawai Pejabat Perhutanan Jerantut pada bulan Disember lalu bagi pihak anak guamnya sebagai persiapan untuk kes saman syarikat balak itu.

Syarikat pembalakan terbabit berpendapat bahawa surat tersebut merupakan pelanggaran perintah injuksi yang mereka perolehi sebelum ini, yang melarang para defendan menghalang akses ke kawasan yang dipertikaikan itu.

Syarikat berkenaan menyaman penduduk kampung kerana membuat tuduhan secara dalam talian mengenai aktiviti pembalakan mereka.

Kata syarikat terbabit, mereka mempunyai semua izin yang diperlukan untuk mengeluarkan hasil hutan. 

Penduduk kampung pula berpendapat mereka berhak untuk membantah pembalakan kerana mereka bergantung pada kawasan hutan tersebut sebagai sumber penghidupan.

Peguam Jacob Goldie mewakili pihak pemohon dua firma pembalakan itu. Ong Siew Wan hadir sebagai peguam pemerhati Badan Peguam Malaysia, manakala peguam kanan persekutuan Mohd Azlan Shah mewakili kerajaan negeri Pahang. - Malaysiakini, 14/4/2021


Saturday, April 03, 2021

International Labour Organization(ILO) places Malaysia in ‘serious failure’ group? Are we committed to worker rights?

 

ILO places Malaysia in ‘serious failure’ group for not submitting reports


Screenshot of the ILO report. The UN body says the constitutional obligation of member states to submit reports is of the highest importance.

PETALING JAYA: The International Labour Organization (ILO) has placed Malaysia among dozens of countries in the “serious failure to submit” category which comprises governments that have repeatedly ignored requests for reports on specific issues.

In the Application of International Labour Standards 2021 report of the ILO’s committee of experts on conventions and recommendations, it said Malaysia had failed repeatedly over the last few years to submit the requested reports.

“The committee notes with regret that the government has not replied to its previous comments. The constitutional obligation of submission is of the highest importance and is a fundamental element of the standards system of the ILO.

“The committee hopes, as did the conference committee in June 2019, that Malaysia will comply with its obligation to submit conventions, recommendations and protocols to the competent authority,” said the report.

The ILO once again requested the government to provide information on the submission of ILO Recommendation C198, adopted by the body’s annual conference attended by the human resources ministry representatives, including the minister, every year to Parliament.

“In addition, the committee requests the government to provide information on the submission of the Violence and Harassment Convention (C190) which was adopted by the ILO at its 108th Session in 2019,” the report said.

The C198 recommendation refers to the various aspects of employment relationship, mainly laws that protect the vulnerable sectors, including migrant workers.

Among others, the ILO emphasised that the national labour policies must be formulated and implemented in accordance with national laws and practice in consultation with the organisations representing the employers and workers.

It said the laws should at least include measures to combat “disguised” employment relationships that use contracts hiding the true legal status of workers that could result in exploitation.

“They should provide effective access to employers and workers for speedy, inexpensive, fair and efficient procedures and mechanisms for settling disputes,” it said.

The recommendation specified effective protection to workers especially affected by the uncertainty, including the most vulnerable such as those in the informal economy, migrant workers and disabled employees.

“ILO member states should also have clear policies on gender equality and better enforcement of the relevant laws and agreements so that the gender dimension can be effectively addressed.”

In the context of migrant labour, it said governments should prevent abuses of this category as they were normally affected by an uncertain and vague employment relationship.

As for Convention 190, member states have been told to take appropriate steps to prevent violence and harassment in the workplace, including those which are gender-based.

Among others, they should provide workers with information and training on the identified hazards and risks of violence and harassment, and the prevention and protection measures.

“Victims of gender-based violence and harassment must have effective access to safe and effective complaint, and dispute resolution mechanisms and support,” it added.

FMT has reached out to human resources minister M Saravanan for his comment. - FMT, 17/3/2021

Mahiaddin, the real name of PM - Court quashes detention order under Detention Without Trial law for use of 'glamour name' by PM?

How unjust it is for victims of Detention Without Trial(DWT) Laws cannot even challenge even 'fake' reasons if used by authorities to justify restrictions/detentions - Courts are barred to see if the reasons used are reasonable. The victim loses liberty/freedoms without  being accorded to a right to a FAIR TRIAL.

Detention Without Trial(DWT) Laws remains a travesty and injustice in Malaysia, as this allows the authorities the ability to arrest and indefinitely detain and restrict freedoms indefinitely(2 years at a time) and the victims cannot even challenge the REASONS why he/she is detained or restricted. 

Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (“POTA”)

JUSTLY, the Judiciary should be able to check on the executive to ensure NO ABUSE OF POWER - that includes the availability of challenging REASONS advanced by government in the use of DWT laws..But, alas 'OUSTER CLAUSES' prevent the courts from doing this.  

11C  Judicial review of act or decision of Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Minister

(1) There shall be no judicial review in any court of, and no court shall have or exercise any jurisdiction in respect of, any act done or decision made by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or the Minister in the exercise of their discretionary power in accordance with this Act, save in regard to any question on compliance with any procedural requirement in this Act governing such act or decision.

(2) The exception in regard to any question on compliance with any procedural requirement in subsection (1) shall not apply where the grounds are as described in section 6A.

So, if by chance the Prime Minister forgets to use his real name - but uses his 'glamour' name and other procedural reasons like that can one successfully challenge a DWT law Restriction/Detention order - it is so sad and unjust - the right to challenge the REASONS must be at least there - for these victims already denied the Right to a Fair Trial.

Why exactly is the government afraid to have the reasons used reviewed by Court? One must wonder...are they afraid that court will fine the reasons unjustified..

A good government will remove these 'OUSTER CLAUSES' - allowing real democracy to happen. Where executive decicions will always be subject to Judicial Review - a needed check and balance in a democracy

An opportunity missed - when Federal Court found POCA 'ouster clause' OK? SEE JUDGEMENT - a 4-1 decision, FCJ NALLINI P dissenting?

 

NEWS

Court quashes detention order because PM used his 'glamour name'

Hidir Reduan Abdul Rashid

Published
94

The Shah Alam High Court today quashed a preventive detention order which was signed last year by Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin who was also acting as home minister at the time.

Lawyer Danial Amir Hamzah told Malaysiakini that this was because the prime minister signed the order using his "glamour name" Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin rather than his government gazetted MyKad name Mahiaddin Md Yasin.

“Under the Ministerial Functions Act 1969, the name stated in the gazette is Mahiaddin Md Yasin, the name in his MyKad.

“Today, the High Court ruled that any executive decision or action taken by the prime minister or minister must use the name in the gazette, namely the name in the MyKad and not the glamour name.

“The detention order was signed off with the name Muhyiddin rather than Mahiaddin. The court, therefore, allowed our habeas corpus application,” Danial said.

He said judicial commissioner Norsharidah Awang today allowed the habeas corpus application by Sabahan Awang Sari Lasikan.

Danial, who appeared together with co-counsel Zafran Zafri Mohd Zaini, acted for general worker Awang, who was detained under the order signed by Muhyiddin on March 10, last year.

The Sabahan is now freed from detention.

The lawyer today said the High Court agreed with their submission that Muhyiddin should not have signed the detention order with his "Muhyiddin" name rather than his MyKad name of Mahiaddin.

"When the new government (Perikatan Nasional) took over in early March last year, there was still no cabinet and Muhyiddin, besides being the prime minister, was also carrying out duty as then home minister.

"Among the duties he carried out was signing off on detention orders under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985, which included signing the order against my client on March 9, 2020.

"We then went to the Shah Alam High Court to challenge the validity of the detention order as it was not signed according to Muhyiddin’s name as stated in the government gazette," he said.

Danial explained that today’s ruling has potentially opened the floodgates for other similar habeas corpus applications.

He said there are several other detainees under detention orders signed by Muhyiddin at the time.

According to a copy of Awang’s legal team's submission sighted by Malaysiakini, they contended the detention order is invalid because it was issued and signed under a name (Muhyiddin) that is not valid in law as specified by the Ministerial Functions Act and the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act.

They submitted that despite the gazette stating the person tasked then with carrying out the task of home minister as Mahiaddin Md Yasin, the detention order however was signed by Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin.

Federal Counsel Muhamad Safuan Azhar acted for the two respondents in today’s matter, namely the deputy home minister and the Simpang Renggam Behavioral Rehabilitation Centre’s senior enforcer. - Malaysiakini, 2/4/2021

Court revokes detention order as PM used ‘glamour name’


The Shah Alam High Court has dismissed a preventive detention order signed by Muhyiddin Yassin when he was home minister, as he had signed it using his ‘glamour name’ rather than his MyKad name. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 2, 2021.

THE Shah Alam High Court today dismissed a preventive detention order signed by Muhyiddin Yassin when he was home minister, Malaysiakini reports. 

Lawyer Danial Amir Hamzah said the court had ruled in favour of the defence because the prime minister signed the order using his “glamour name” Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin rather than his government gazetted MyKad name Mahiaddin Md Yasin.

“Under the Ministerial Functions Act 1969, the name stated in the gazette is Mahiaddin Md Yasin, the name in his MyKad. 

“Today, the high court ruled that any executive decision or action taken by the prime minister or minister must use the name in the gazette, namely the name in the MyKad and not the glamour name,” he was quoted as saying.

Danial said judicial commissioner Norsharidah Awang allowed the habeas corpus application by Sabahan Awang Sari Lasikan, who is now free from detention. 

Danial is representing Awang, who was detained under the order signed by Muhyiddin on March 10, last year. 

He said the high court agreed with their submission that Muhyiddin should not have signed the detention order with his “Muhyiddin” name rather than his MyKad name of Mahiaddin. 

Danial also added that today’s ruling has potentially opened the floodgates for other similar habeas corpus applications. 

He said there are several other detainees under detention orders signed by Muhyiddin at the time. – April 2, 2021. - Malaysian Insight, 2/4/2021

 

Friday, April 02, 2021

Amnesty International - Malaysia: Stop intimidation of human rights lawyer and defenders

 


Malaysia: Stop intimidation of human rights lawyer and defenders

, Index number: ASA 28/3943/2021

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the intimidation and harassment of a Malaysian human rights lawyer and the human rights defenders he is representing. Lawyer Charles Hector is at risk of contempt of court charges simply for carrying out his work as a lawyer. The organisation views the charges as an act of intimidation and harassment to silence him and his clients. Amnesty International calls on the authorities to immediately drop the contempt application, and for the government to reform contempt of court laws and ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional duties safely without any threat, intimidation or harassment. 

 

 

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT
 1April 2021   ASA 38/3943/2021 
MALAYSIA: STOP INTIMIDATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER AND DEFENDERS 
 

Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the intimidation and harassment of a Malaysian human rights lawyer and the human rights defenders he is representing. Charles Hector is at risk of contempt of court charges simply for carrying out his work as a lawyer. The organisation views the charges as an act of intimidation and harassment to silence him and his clients. 

Charles Hector is the lawyer of villagers who have been contesting logging in a Permanent Forest Reserve in Jerantut, Pahang since 2013. The villagers depend on the Reserve for water and as a food source. The Reserve also serves as a main source of livelihood, fish farming,and is an important ecosystem for endangered wildlife. 

In 2020, two companies conducting logging activities in the Reserve obtained an injunction prohibiting the villagers from interfering or causing “nuisance to the work of the plaintiffs in any manner whatsoever including physically, online or by communication with the authorities.”In January 2021 the logging companies-Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd- filed an application to grant leave for contempt of court charges against Charles Hector and eight villagers he is representing. They are accusing him of breaching the injunction after sending a letter to a representative of the Forestry Department on behalf of his clients, seeking clarification on a previous communication as he was preparing for trial. The application to grant leave for contempt of court charges will be heard in Kuantan High Court, Pahang on 6 April 2021.

Amnesty International calls on the authorities and companies to ensure that the contempt application is immediately dropped and for the government to ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional duties safely without any threat, intimidation or harassment. 

The targeting of lawyers with contempt charges solely for carrying out their professional duties contravenes the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and undermines the right to a fair trial. The Basic Principles state that governments must “ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and that they shall not “suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” The Basic Principles also require authorities to ensure the protection of lawyers whenever they are threatened as a result of performing their duties. 

The work of lawyers is essential in the effective administration of criminal justice.It is important for governments to protect lawyers from unlawful interference with their work in order for legal assistance to be effective. Lawyers are often the last line of defense for communities seeking to claim their right to land yet they themselves come under threat for their work. Amnesty International has previously documented the challenges and struggles faced by land defenders in Malaysia, including the threat, intimidation and harassment of lawyers. Lawyers have previously faced challenges in providing legal representation to defenders including attacks on their credibility and smear campaigns against their work.Intimidation and harassment of lawyers and human rights defenders has a chilling effect on the proper exercise of professional duties by lawyers, and undermines the right to a fair trial and access to justice for victims of human rights violations and abuses. 

The threat against Hector follows calls from the Malaysian Bar Council and groups, including Amnesty International, to reform the country’s contempt of court laws. Definitions of contempt of court are currently vaguely defined and subject to misuse, with penalties including large fines, imprisonment and the revocation of a lawyer’s practicing certificate. Contempt of court charges have previously been abused and brought against individuals speaking out. Amnesty International urges the government to reform contempt of court legislation in Malaysia, by bringing it into line with international human rights law to end its misuse.

Background

Campaigning against logging in Jerantut Tambahan Forest Reserve has taken place for many years. In 2019, approval to carry out logging in the Reserve was granted to two contracting companies, Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd. In 2020, the companies took legal action against eight villagers who they accuse of disrupting and blocking the activities of logging workers.The villagers deny this and argue the companies do not yet have full permission to commence logging.In November 2020, the companies successfully obtained an injunction prohibiting the villagers and their lawyers from interfering with the approval given to the plaintiffs and causing “nuisance” to the work of the plaintiffs.

In December 2020 Charles Hector sent a letter on behalf of his clients to the Jerantut District Forestry Office, seeking clarifications on a communication sent by the office earlier in the year. The following month, the companies filed an application for permission to bring contempt of court proceedings against Charles Hector and the eight villagers. 

 

Source: Amnesty International Website

ICJ - Malaysia: contempt of court action abused to harass human rights lawyer Charles Hector

 

Malaysia: contempt of court action abused to harass human rights lawyer Charles Hector

The ICJ today called for the reform of the country’s law on contempt of court to prevent their abuse and for the withdrawal of the contempt action filed against human rights lawyer Charles Hector.

Charles Hector faces potential contempt of court charges over a letter he sent to an officer of the Jerantut District Forest Office, as part of trial preparation. He is currently representing eight inhabitants of Kampung Baharu, a village in Jerantut, Pahang, in their civil lawsuit against two logging companies, Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd.

The companies applied for leave to commence contempt of court proceedings against Charles Hector and the defendants. They claim that his letter violates an interlocutory injunction order prohibiting the villagers and their representatives from interfering with or causing nuisance to their work.

“Charles Hector is being harassed and intimidated through legal processes for carrying out his professional duties as a lawyer and gathering evidence in preparation for trial. The Malaysian authorities must act to protect human rights lawyers from sanctions and the threat of sanctions for the legitimate performance of their work,” said Ian Seiderman, the ICJ’s Legal and Policy Director.

The harassment of Charles Hector through legal processes violates international standards such as the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers that make clear that lawyers must be able to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference.

Contempt of court, whether civil or criminal, may result in imprisonment and fines. Malaysia’s contempt of court offense is a common law doctrine and not codified statutorily.

“Fear of contempt charges stands to cast a chilling effect on the work of human rights lawyers and defenders. This further reinforces how Malaysia’s contempt of court doctrine needs to be urgently reformed as it is incompatible with international human rights law and standards,” said Seiderman.

The ICJ calls for the reform of Malaysia’s contempt of court doctrine to ensure clarity in definition, consistency in procedural rules and sentencing limits pertaining to criminal contempt cases. This reform should be in line with recommendations by the Malaysian Bar that the law of contempt be codified statutorily to provide clear and unequivocal parameters as to what really constitutes contempt.

Background

In September 2019, the two logging companies reportedly obtained approvals from the Jerantut District Forest Office to carry out logging in the Jerantut Tambahan Forest Reserve. The eight villagers are from a community many of whose residents have been protesting against the logging. The villagers depend on the forest reserve for clean water and their livelihoods.

On 14 July 2020, the companies filed a writ of summons against the eight villagers in the Kuantan High Court. The writ stated that the plaintiffs had applied for an injunction order to stop the defendants from preventing the companies’ workers from carrying out their works and spreading “false information” online.

On 5 November 2020, the companies successfully obtained an interlocutory injunction order. It was reported that the injunction order prohibits the defendants and their representatives from interfering with the approval given to the plaintiffs by the District Forest Office or causing nuisance to the work of the plaintiffs in any manner whatsoever, including physically, online or by communication with the authorities.

On 17 December 2020 Charles Hector sent a letter on behalf of his clients to Mohd Zarin Bin Ramlan, an officer of the Jerantut District Forestry Office, seeking clarifications on a letter sent by the office on 20 February 2020.

The logging firms contend that the letter violated the injunction order. In January 2021, the companies filed an ex parte application for leave to commence contempt of court proceedings against Charles Hector and the eight villagers.

The hearing was postponed until 25 March 2021 at the Kuantan High Court. On 25 March 2021, the plaintiff’s lawyer opposed the presence and participation of Charles Hector’s lawyer on the grounds that it was an ex parte application, which was contested by Charles Hector’s lawyer. The Court decided to adjourn the hearing to 6 April 2021.

Contact

Boram Jang, International Legal Adviser, e: boram.jang(a)icj.org

 

Source:- Internation Commission of Jurist(ICJ) website

Thursday, April 01, 2021

RM10k Compound, RM50k maximum fine - Emergency Ordinances, Removal of Repeat and continuing Offences fine/sentence?

PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES ACT 1988 - that was the Act of Parliament, who provided the power for Regulations and Orders during the Movement Control Orders(MCOs) when Malaysia faced the Covid-19 pandemic.


 

Until 11 March 2021, that law is as follows - The fine was not limited, meaning the court could impose any fine depending on the facts and circumstances. 

In terms of COMPOUND, the maximum compound permissible was RM1,000. [Of course, when it comes to Compound, it could then be RM50, RM100, RM500 - but the maximum was RM1,000]


24  General penalty

Any person guilty of an offence under this Act for which no specific penalty is provided shall be liable on conviction-

(a) in respect of a first offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to fine or to both;

(b) in respect of a second or subsequent offence, to imprisonment not exceeding five years or to fine or to both;

(c) in respect of a continuing offence, to a further fine not exceeding two hundred ringgit for every day during which such offence continues.


25  Compounding of offences

The Director General or any public officer authorized for this purpose by him in writing may compound any offence under this Act or any regulations made under this Act which has been prescribed by regulations as compoundable by collecting from the offender a sum of money not exceeding one thousand ringgit.

NEW LAW - Then the Act was amended vide EMERGENCY (PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES) (AMENDMENT) ORDINANCE 2021, which came into force on 11/3/2021.

The Act is amended by substituting for section 24 the following section:

24. General penalty

Any person who commits an offence under this Act for which no penalty is expressly provided shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years or to both.”.

The Act is amended by substituting for section 25 the following section:

25. Compounding of offences

The Director General or any authorized officer authorized for this purpose by the Director General in writing may, with the consent in writing of the Public Prosecutor, at any time before a charge is being instituted, compound any offence under this Act or any regulations made under this Act which has been prescribed by regulations as a compoundable offence by making a written offer to the person reasonably suspected of having committed the offence to compound the offence upon payment to the Director General—

(a) in the case of a person who is an individual, a sum of money not exceeding ten thousand ringgit; or

(b) in the case of a body corporate, a sum of money not exceeding fifty thousand ringgit.”.

Now, an Emergency Ordinance during Emergency is law not approved and passed by Parliament. It is law enacted by the King on the advice of the Prime Minister. Does the King have a choice - No, he does not as 'acting on the advice of the Prime Minister' really means to do as what the PM tells you. If PM advises the King to enact this law or that law, the King really do not have much choice. So, please do not BLAME the King - rather blame the Prime Minister personally when these Emergency Ordinances get enacted.

Must the Prime Minister get the approval of his Cabinet - No, he does not have to. Remember, it is after all the PM who really chooses  his Cabinet members...it is the PM's Cabinet at the end of the day. That is also why it is the sitting PM who gets blamed for even failings of his own Cabinet members...

COMPOUND - if an offer of compound is made, and it accepted and paid by the person alleged(reasonably suspected) to have broken the law - then the person is not charged in court, tried, found guilty or convicted. Hence, there is no record of past guilt, and one may not be considered a REPEAT OFFENDER and imposed a higher penalty when he/she/it does it again and again.

How much compound - well, it all depends of  the authorities, for one it could be RM50 and another RM10,000 - after all it is an administrative decision not a judicial decision. Factors considered may be arbitrary - a person 'connected' may be offered a lower compound. After all, the law just says 'not exceeding RM10,000'

Government by way of 'POLICY' may say that they will be compounded a fix sum - but that is merely policy not law.

REPEAT OFFENDERS - The old law, before this new amended law by way of an Emergency Ordinance, provided for REPEAT OFFENDERS - the second time, there will be a HIGHER more deterrent penalty. It also provided for 'continuing offenders'...for every day, it was an additional RM200 fine.

Hence, the new EMERGENCY ORDINANCE fails to provide penalties for Repeat Offenders, or for those that continue breaking the law.

SHOULD ALL OFFENCES BE COMPOUNDED?

- the answer is NO - offences that result in death or injury should never be compounded, the suspect must be charged and tried in court.

- For offences that causes a risk of injury/death or even property damage should not be compounded.

- Compounds are OK for minor offences or small offences, that did not cause death, injury or property damage, or caused the risk of injury, sickness or death to a large number of persons. An employer/owner of a workplace where hundreds of workers work or live should never be compounded, for example, - they should be charged and tried. If a worker gets Covid-19 or dies as a result of Covid-19 from a workplace, workers accommodation or workers transport, they should not be offered a compound - but should be charged, tried and convicted in a court? The courts will impose a JUST sentence.

- So many workplace clusters, and so many workers and their families have got Covid-19(and risked  death) - how many of these employers have been charged in court, or did they simply get off with paying RM1,000 as a compound.

- The penalty in terms of Covid-19 should also factor in number put at risk - so higher for the employer/owner of workplaces - depending on the number of persons put at risk.

BODY CORPORATE - well the Act has no definition - does it also include partnerships and/or sole proprietors?

RM10,000 compound or RM50,000 fine - is it JUST? For a minimum wage worker earning RM1,200 - it is unjustly excessive, for a rich man earning a lot, even RM1mil per month, it is 'chicken feed'. Notice not how on the highway, you see cars speeding irrespective the legal speed limit - they may be the RICH and for them the compound sum and/or fine is irrelevant.

Time to rethink fines - Maybe we should make it also to be like 10% of the monthly income - rather than a fixed sum which is highly unjust for the poor. {Note, the many who just cannot afford the bail amount, that are languishing in Malaysian prisons - about 20-25% persons in Malaysian prison/detention facilities are not the convicted serving their sentence - but people waiting still for their trial to begin/end}

What kind of Covid-19 offences ought to be compounded?

- Maybe the minor offences of not wearing face mask, practicing social distancing, failure to record name/temperature,  etc - but not others. [May be just for the fixing of a fixed compound for this]

BEST OPTION - abolish compounds for Covid-19 related violations - just charge them all in Court. Then the accussed can just PLEAD GUILTY or claim trial. If one pleads guilty, the norm is that the sentence will be reduced by a third by Court. Then, before sentencing the accused can raise MITIGATION points - why the sentence should be lowered..poverty or income also can be considered. The individual who just made one mistake - like not wearing face mask just that time because he could not find/purchase or afford a face mask, or  simply forgot, as he quickly jumped from his/her car that one time to speedily buy something not being able to find a parking spot...are all mitigation factors that the court will/may consider before imposition of a just sentence.

As a lawyer, my personal opinion, is that when caught committing an offence, is to NOT accept the Compound offer, and ask to be taken to court. I would trust the Court in handing down a just sentence, after one is found guilty - rather than an officer, who may take irrelevant factors, in the compound offer. The courts will consider all relevant facts and circumstances judiciously because judges are trained to do so...

Now, with higher fines and/or compounds, one must also be concerned with increase corruption - the likelyhood of enforcement officers taking small bribes to not arrest or summon a person increases ...MACC must be more vigilant now. 

EMERGENCY ORDINANCE - Covid-19 started in early 2020, and whatever amendments could have been done then when Parliament sat - everyone was aware that the  PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES ACT 1988 needed to be amended - but why was it not then? Was the Prime Minister and the Executive distracted by staying in power - avoiding no confidence motions - ..this is really no excuse for PM Muhyiddin and his then PN government, is there?

The law concerning Elections could also be amended then giving the powers to postpone elections for reasons like pandemics or even natural disasters ...Why was it not done? I believe all our MPs and Senators would not have opposed such amendment to law, including the Federal Constitution. 


Saturday, March 27, 2021

Contempt proceedings adjourn to 6/4/2021 - and another letter to PM and MB from Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

As many have been contacting me about what happened on 25/3/2021 at the Kuantan High Court, with regard the application to commence contempt proceedings against the 8 Defendants(being members of the communities protesting logging) and me(their lawyer). The Plaintiffs are 2 Logging Contractors, whereby the Logging License holder is the Pengurus Besar Yayasan Pahang.

The attempt to commence contempt proceedings because of a letter, I wrote as the Defendants lawyer, to a person(who also is the Jerantut Forestry Officer) asking him CLARIFICATIONS about a letter he authored dated 20/2/2020 and the contents of the said letter. This is part of TRIAL PREPARATIONS.

The Plaintiffs allege that the letter was in breach of an interlocutory injunctions that they obtained against the 8 Defendants.

BUT, WHY, I ASK, THEY ARE WANTING TO COMMENCE A CONTEMPT PROCEEDING AGAINST ME - A LAWYER ACTING FOR HIS/HER CLIENTS? 

I was represented by M Ramachelvam, and the Bar Council was represented by Ong Siew Wan(The Council is holding a Watching Brief).

In any event, the matter came up - and the Plaintiffs' lawyer opposed the presence of other lawyers on grounds that this was an ex-parte hearing. My lawyer disagreed stating that when the other parties are there, the hearing will proceed as an opposed ex-parte hearing ...Then, the Judge djourned the matter to another date - 6th April 2020 at 10.00am  

Next date: 6/4/2020, at 10.00 am at the Kuantan High Court 

THANK YOU for your solidarity and support. 
 
Here, I am simply sharing a Joint Statement by others concerning risk of contempt I am currently facing 

See earlier related posts: 

Initiation of contempt proceedings against lawyer acting for his clients is a travesty of justice - ALIRAN

[Joint Statement] Malaysia: End attempts to silence lawyer and human rights defender Charles Hector(FORUM-ASIA)

 

Malaysia: Judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Charles Hector | Letter

Full PDF (ENG)


23 March 2021

His Excellency Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd. Yassin
Prime Minister of Malaysia
Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building
Federal Government Administrative Centre
62502 Putrajaya, Malaysia
Fax: +60 3 8888 3444
Email: ppm@pmo.gov.my

YAB Dato’ Sri Haji Wan Rosdy bin Wan Ismail
Chief Minister of Pahang State government
Tingkat 2, Blok A
Wisma Sri Pahang,
25503 Kuantan, Malaysia
Fax:+6 09-5157766
Email: mb@pahang.gov.my

Your Excellencies,

Malaysia: Judicial harassment of human rights lawyer Charles Hector

Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) is a committee of lawyers and human rights defenders who promote international human rights, the independence and security of human rights defenders, the integrity of legal systems, and the rule of law through advocacy, education, and legal research. LRWC has Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (UN).

LRWC has received information that two logging contractors, Beijing Million SDN BHD (“Beijing Million”) and Rosah Timber & Trading SDN BHD (“Rosah Timber”) have brought an application to begin contempt of court proceedings against a human rights lawyer, Mr. Charles Hector and eight of his clients (“defendants”). The hearing is scheduled for 25 March 2021 at Kuantan High Court in Pahang, Malaysia.

The defendants have been protesting plans to log a forest reserve in the vicinity of their community. They are concerned about negative impacts of logging on the environment and community livelihoods. The contempt proceedings appear to be an attempt by Beijing Million and Rosah Timber to obstruct the court’s determination of the defendants’ rights, including their right to legal representation by Mr. Hector. LRWC is monitoring this matter in light of international law and standards, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, (UDHR)[1] the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,[2] the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers,[3] and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.[4]

Background

Since 2013, numerous villagers in Jerantut, Pahang State, have been protesting logging in the Permanent Forest Reserve in Jerantut. Despite classification of the area as a Forest Reserve, the Forestry Department issued a logging license in 2019 to the Pengurus Besar Yayasan Pahang (General Manager of the Pahang Foundation). The Pahang Foundation is a statutory body of the Pahang State government. The General Manager of the Pahang Foundation appointed Beijing Million and Rosah Timber as logging contractors. The portion of the forest planned to be logged is a water catchment area, and the villagers, including the defendants, are concerned about the impact of logging on the quality of water required for their livelihoods. It has been alleged that the State government failed to conduct required environment and social impact assessments.

On 5 November 2020, Beijing Million and Rosah Timber obtained an ex parte interlocutory injunction to prevent the defendants from accessing a contested 202.61-hectare area in the Forest Reserve. The defendants’ lawyer, Charles Hector, is currently preparing for a full trial of the matter. According to information we have received, on 20 February 2020 the Jerantut Forestry Officer, Mohd Zarin Bin Ramlan, issued a letter suspending permission for Beijing Million and Rosah Timber to build an access road into the forest after alleged disturbances by villagers on 19 February 2020. We understand that the alleged disturbances formed the foundation of the interlocutory injunction despite police investigations that determined the allegations against the villagers to be unfounded.

During trial preparation, Mr. Hector, wrote to Mr. Mohd Zarin Bin Ramlan to seek clarification of his letter of 20 February 2021. Beijing Million and Rosah Timber are now claiming that Mr. Hector’s letter to Mr. Bin Ramlan was a violation of interlocutory injunction orders, one of which prohibits the defendants, “their agents, representatives, servants and/or any party connected with them” from “1.4 Interfering with department or approval given to the Plaintiffs on 15 September 2019 by the District Forest Office… 1.5 Cause nuisance to the work of the Plaintiffs in any manner whatsoever including physically, online or by communication with the authorities…” Beijing Million and Rosah Timber appear to be manipulating this overbroad order in an illegitimate attempt to interfere with the defendants’ legitimate pursuit of a court remedy challenging the validity of the interlocutory injunction.

International human rights law analysis

LRWC is concerned that the complaint against Mr. Hector and the defendants is intended to obstruct a legitimate legal process, to silence valid concerns of the defendants, and to discredit, punish, and criminalize the legitimate professional work of a respected human rights lawyer.

The UDHR guarantees that everyone has “the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.”[5] Equality of access to the law without discrimination is a fundamental right protected by the UDHR.[6]

The UN Declaration on the Human Rights Defenders affirms that:

everyone whose rights or freedoms are allegedly violated has the right, either in person or through legally authorized representation, to complain to and have that complaint promptly reviewed in a public hearing before an independent, impartial and competent judicial or other authority established by law and to obtain from such an authority a decision, in accordance with law, providing redress, including any compensation due, where there has been a violation of that person’s rights or freedoms, as well as enforcement of the eventual decision and award, all without undue delay.[7]

Thus, it is a violation of international human rights standards to obstruct Mr. Hector’s exercize of his professional duties on behalf of his clients to obtain evidence, gather documents and correspond with potential witnesses in preparation for the court trial.

The UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which have been welcomed by consensus of all States of the UN General Assembly, elaborate these fundamental principles and emphasize that governments “shall ensure that lawyers are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference” and must not be “threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” The Basic Principles also affirm that lawyers “shall not be identified with their clients or their clients’ causes as a result of discharging their functions.”[8]

The government of Malaysia has a duty to prevent Beijing Million and Rosah Timber from interfering with Mr. Hector’s exercize of his duties as a lawyer.

We understand that in 2015 the government of Malaysia made a commitment to develop a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights based on a framework outlined by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM). The framework references the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights[9] (Guiding Principles) and notes the need for remedies to address risks of reprisals and intimidation against “individuals and communities, their representatives, advocates and human rights defenders… intended to deter them from pursuing claims and raising complaints.”[10] LRWC would welcome information as to how your government is implementing the Guiding Principles to ensure protection of all those pursuing claims related to alleged violations of human rights by business enterprises.

Finally, we note that the Malaysian Bar Council has called for review and revision of Malaysia’s common law on contempt of court. There are concerns that the law is vague and that sentences for contempt may be arbitrary and disproportionate, including high fines and custodial sentences. LRWC urges your government to review and revise the law in accordance with international law and standards.[11]

LRWC plans to continue to monitor the situation of Mr. Hector and the defendants in light of the above international human rights law and standards. We urge your government to take immediate steps to ensure the protection of Mr. Hector and the defendants, together with all lawyers and human rights defenders, from retaliation and reprisals as a result of their legitimate exercize of their internationally protected rights.

Yours sincerely, [signed]

Catherine Morris, BA, JD, LLM
Executive Director
Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

Copied to:

Chief Justice, The Right Honourable Tun Tengku Maimun binti Tuan Mat
email: faridahmsalleh@kehakiman.gov.my

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)
Email: humanrights@suhakam.org.my

President, Malaysian Bar Council
email: president@malaysianbar.org.my, council@malaysianbar.org.my

H.E. Mr. Ahmad Faisal bin Muhamad,
Ambassador of Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva
Email: mwgeneva@kln.gov.my

Ms. Cynthia Veliko
Regional Representative
High Commissioner for Human Rights in South-East Asia
email: Cynthia.veliko@un.org

References

[1] UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, 217 A (III), Article 10, 11, available at: https://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/,

[2] UN General Assembly, Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms : resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 8 March 1999, A/RES/53/144, article 9.2, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/RightAndResponsibility.aspx.

[3] United Nations, Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, 7 September 1990, articles, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/RoleOfLawyers.aspx.

[4] UN Human Rights Council, Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework, A/HRC/17/4, 16 June 2011, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/documents/publications/guidingprinciplesbusinesshr_en.pdf.

[5] UDHR, supra note 1, article 8.

[6] UDHR, ibid, article 7.

[7] UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, supra note 2, article 9.2

[8] Ibid, paras 16, 18.

[9] Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR), National Action Plans on Business and Human Rights: Malaysia, available at: https://globalnaps.org/country/malaysia/. See the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Strategic Framework on a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights for Malaysia, which notes the need to address risks to human rights defenders at paras 106 (15), and 107.c, available at: https://suhakam.org.my/portfolio/business-and-human-rights/.

[10] Ibid. In particular see the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Strategic Framework on a National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights for Malaysia, paras 106 (15), and 107.c, available at: https://suhakam.org.my/portfolio/business-and-human-rights/.

[11] Malaysia Bar Council, Press Comment: Codifying the Law of Contempt is a Step in the Right Direction, 5 August 2020, available at: https://www.malaysianbar.org.my/article/news/press-statements/press-statements/press-comment-codifying-the-law-of-contempt-is-a-step-in-the-right-direction

Source :  Lawyers’ Rights Watch Canada

 

Note: The said letter is just and only my sharing of a letter that concerns me.  The contents are theirs(the authors) and as usual the posting in this Blog in no way is an indication that I am of the same opinion of the various different points made in the letter. Thank you.  

For one, I certainly do not agree that this a JUDICIAL HARASSMENT - as the application to commence contempt proceedings is solely the action of the Logging Contractors(the Plaintiffs), and the independent court will just be hearing  this application

Thursday, March 25, 2021

[Joint Statement] Malaysia: End attempts to silence lawyer and human rights defender Charles Hector(FORUM-ASIA)

 

THANK YOU for your solidarity and support. Here, I am simply sharing a Joint Statement by others concerning risk of contempt I am currently facing 

See earlier related posts: 

Initiation of contempt proceedings against lawyer acting for his clients is a travesty of justice - ALIRAN

 

[Joint Statement] Malaysia: End attempts to silence lawyer and human rights defender Charles Hector
24 March 2021 3:44 pm

(Bangkok, 24 March 2021) – Attempts to intimidate Malaysian lawyer and human rights defender (HRD) Charles Hector for his work amount to harassment with the ultimate aim of silencing the people he represents, the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Front Line Defenders said in a joint statement today.

Human rights lawyer Charles Hector, along with eight defendants he is representing against logging companies, may face contempt charges for seeking clarifications over details contained in a letter sent by the Jerantut Forestry office.

The proceedings to initiate contempt charges are scheduled to take place tomorrow (25 March 2021) at the Kuantan High Court in the Malaysian state of Pahang, following a letter Hector had sent on behalf of his clients to an officer of the Jerantut Forestry office on 17 December 2020. In that letter, Hector sought further explanations on an earlier letter sent by the forestry officer in February 2020.

The plaintiffs behind the contempt proceedings are logging firms Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd. They claim that Hector’s letter is a violation of a temporary injunction order obtained in November 2020, which, among others, stops the defendants from blocking the plaintiff’s workers from accessing a contested area in the Jerantut Permanent Forest Reserve.

The logging firms were appointed by the General Manager of Yayasan Pahang (Pahang Foundation), the license holder allowed to carry out logging in this forest. Yayasan Pahang is a statutory body of the Pahang State government.

‘The use of legal proceedings to curtail the crucial role of human rights lawyers highlights the continuous risk and intimidation they face in their work, particularly when they defend individuals in cases involving powerful businesses,’ said Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu, Executive Director of FORUM-ASIA.

The eight defendants represented by Hector are from communities affected by potential logging activities in the Jerantut Permanent Forest Reserve.

In February 2020, the logging firms accused the defendants of preventing their workers and contractors from accessing and carrying their work in the forest reserve, and for allegedly disseminating false information about them. The defendants have denied these allegations.

The defendants, a part of the community who have been protesting logging of the Jerantut Permanent Forest Reserve since 2013, argue that the relevant authorities are still considering their objections and have not yet given permission to commence logging. The defendants, along with their communities, depend on the forest reserve for clean water and their livelihood. They also assert that their protest activities have been legal and peaceful.

‘Apart from intimidating lawyers, these actions by businesses result in disempowering vulnerable communities who depend on the forest reserve for their survival,’ said Shamini.

Malaysia has faced widespread deforestation and forest shrinkage in years. Despite attempts to revise laws to ensure protection for the forests, deforestation and infringement on ancestral lands have continued. Human rights lawyers and environmental defenders fighting against these are increasingly being targeted by corporations.

Charles Hector is a human rights lawyer who has extensive experience defending the right to fundamental freedoms, and the rights of indigenous peoples, migrants and refugees, and workers. He has been instrumental in improving mechanisms for access to lawyers and legal representation for the vulnerable.

‘Targeting a human rights defender like Charles Hector, who defends other human rights defenders, is certainly a strategy to weaken the morale of the community protesting the harmful logging,’ observed Olive Moore, Deputy Executive Director of Front Line Defenders.

In Malaysia, without a legislation to define contempt of court offences and penalties, sentences are arbitrary and can range from fines, prison terms and can lead to the revocation of one’s lawyer certificate.

‘Amidst allegation of collusion between regional state authorities and corporations, the Government of Malaysia must prove that it is able to prioritise the rights of its citizens over the interests of these corporations, and that it is able to protect the human rights lawyers who continue to defend the rights of vulnerable communities,’ said the groups.

***

For further information, please contact:

  • East Asia and ASEAN Programme, FORUM-ASIA, ea-asean@forum-asia.org

For media inquiries, please contact:

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

OPEN Letter to PM, Pahang MB,.. from UK lawyers - condemn attempts to 'criminalize' Charles Hector(lawyer) and the eight villagers he represents.

THANK YOU for your solidarity and support. Here, I am simply sharing an OPEN Letter send to the PM of Malaysia, Pahang Menteri Besar condemning the commencement of contempt proceedings against lawyer and 8 clients - read on. There is a contact provided in the OPEN Letter below where you can confirm/verify this Open Letter.

Initiation of contempt proceedings against lawyer acting for his clients is a travesty of justice - ALIRAN

 
Charles Hector

 
Lawyers and organizations from UK and a number of other countries write to Malaysian authorities condemning attempts to discredit and criminalize human rights lawyer Charles Hector.

22 March 2021

Human Rights lawyer Charles Hector

Eleven lawyers, including human rights *QC Michael Mansfield*, over 40 organisations and nearly 70 individuals from six countries, have signed an Open Letter distributed by *Legal Action for Women*, UK, condemning attempts to discredit and criminalize Malaysian human rights lawyer Charles Hector and the eight villagers he represents.

Contact: Nina Lopez, Legal Action for Women, law@allwomencount.net.
Tel: 020 7482 2496

OPEN LETTER to: the Prime Minister of Malaysia, the Chief Justice of Malaysia, Chief Minister of Pahang State Government, The Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), the Pahang Foundation, the Head of the Delegation of the European Union, the Malaysian Bar and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (​UNHCHR)

*We condemn attempts to discredit and criminalize Malaysian human rights lawyer Charles Hector  *

Legal Action for Women (LAW) and undersigned organizations condemn attempts to discredit and criminalize Malaysian human rights lawyer Charles Hector.  Mr. Hector is representing eight villagers in Jerantut who are protesting intended logging in the nearby forest on which they depend for clean water.

We urge the Malaysian authorities to take immediate action to stop a spurious application by logging contractors for leave to begin contempt of court proceedings against Mr. Hector.  The application is aimed at precluding a fair trial.  It is based on a letter Mr. Hector sent on behalf of his clients seeking clarifications in preparation for full trial.  The contractors claim that that this letter breached a temporary/interim injunction court order.  The Malaysian Bar recently called for new legislation to define contempt of court and what sentences it would carry.  Sentences now are entirely arbitrary and can include high fines, prison sentence and even the revocation of Charles Hector’s practicing lawyer certificate.  *The hearing is on 25 March 2021 at Kuantan High Court in Pahang, Malaysia*. 

Charles Hector is a highly respected human rights lawyer who has defended freedom of assembly, the rights of women, Indigenous people, migrants and refugees, workers, trade unionists, urban settlers, as well as land rights and administration of justice.  He is a former member of the Bar Council, and has also been instrumental in developing the Malaysian Bar Legal Aid Dock-Brief programme to ensure that all defendants who do not have a lawyer receive free legal advice and legal representation. 

The charges brought against Mr. Hector may aim to stop him from representing victims of possible collusion between regional state authorities and corporations, such as these Jerantut villagers.

On the basis of Articles 1, 5 and 12.2 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,<https://ymlpcl1.com/988eebsyjafaewueuadajsqaxaessej/click.php>adopted by the General Assembly of the UN in 1998, we demand an end to the harassment of Mr. Hector and the eight villagers who are defending human and environmental rights and exposing rights violations.   Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, adopted by a United Nations Congress, also states, amongst other things, that lawyers must never be barred from being ‘. . . able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; . . (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.’ (Article 16)

The outcome of this case is being watched internationally, especially given the climate emergency and the targeting of human rights defenders and their lawyers.  We call for the immediate discontinuation of this contempt proceedings against the lawyer and his eight community human rights defender clients.

*SIGNED BY: Nina López, Legal Action for Women, UK *

Background

The contempt of court application has been initiated by two logging contractors, Beijing Million Sdn Bhd and Rosah Timber & Trading Sdn Bhd, appointed by the General Manager of the Pahang Foundation, being the Logging License holder. The Pahang Foundation is a statutory body of the Pahang State government. 

Since 2013, hundreds of villagers from Kampong Baharu and other villages in Jerantut, Pahang State, have been protesting logging in the Permanent Forest Reserve in Jerantut. The part intended to be logged is also a water catchment area.  The impact of deforestation on water catchment areas is well documented. 

Regardless of this classification, the Forestry Department issued a logging license in 2019 to the Pengurus Besar Yayasan Pahang (General Manager of the Pahang Foundation).  

The villagers rely on the sources in this forest for clean water for drinking, cooking and personal needs.  The water is a key to their livelihoods and food security which includes fish farming. Logging also threatens the critically endangered birds and animals of the forest; for example, the helmeted hornbill bird which is near extinction was sighted here.  The villagers submitted petitions with hundreds of signatures to the Pahang State Chief Minister (Menteri Besar), relevant members of State Cabinet and also Federal Ministers. In response, the Chief Minister directed the relevant government departments to address the issues raised.

On 19 February 2020, an agent of the logging contractors unloaded heavy machinery in front of the home of one of the defendants.  Villagers went to inquire about what was happening peacefully. Later, they discovered that a complaint had been made to the police accusing them of having disrupted and blocking the workers.  When they went to the police station to assist investigations, they were arrested, finger-printed, photographed, had their DNA sample taken and statements taken before being released on surety.

The following day, 20 February, the Jerantut Forestry Officer, Mohd Zarin Bin Ramlan, issued a letter suspending the logging companies’ permission to build an access road into the forest.  The main reason
given was the “disturbances” caused by the villagers on 19 February.  At that time, the police hadn’t even completed their investigations, and it is suspicious how the Forestry concluded that the allegations were true. The police now have concluded their investigations and found that the allegations against the villagers were false/baseless.  It is highly likely that this 20 February letter of the Forestry Officer was the primary reason why the Court granted the temporary injunction order pending completion of full trial.

In the process of trial preparation, Charles Hector, as lawyer representing the eight villagers, wrote to Mohd Zarin Bin Ramlan individually, not in his official capacity as Jerantut Forest Officer, seeking clarification of this 20 February letter.  How this private letter even came into possession of the logging contractors still remains a mystery.  Hector’s letter to Mohd Zarin is now the basis of this contempt of court action initiated by the logging contractors against the eight villagers and Charles Hector, their lawyer.  

The loggers claim that Mr Hector’s clarification letter was in violation of the interlocutory injunction orders, in particular the order that prohibits the Defendants, /‘their agents, representatives, servants and/or any party connected with them  from ..‘1.4 Interfering with department or approval given to the Plaintiffs on 15 September 2019 by the District Forest Office ….1.5 Cause nuisance to the work of the Plaintiffs in any manner whatsoever including physically, online or by communication with the authorities…/’ [1]<https://ymlpcl1.com/00ad9bsybacaewueuacajsqataessej/click.php>  
 
The said order is vague.

It is unfathomable for an allegation of contempt to be based on a letter from legal counsel, acting on behalf of his clients, seeking clarification from the author of a disputed document. In preparation for trial, lawyers must reasonably seek clarification, interview potential witnesses, obtain documents and evidence.  The need to do this is even greater in civil procedures that require the pre-filing of documents and the provision of witness lists and statements before trial proper even starts.  

It is alarming that the court is hearing a complaint possibly aimed at manipulating the legal process to attack and discredit a dedicated human rights lawyer and silence the genuine concerns of the community.  The right to counsel of one’s choice and the right to a fair trial must be protected.  Human rights lawyers like Charles Hector play a vital role in ensuring access to justice and protecting the public interest.


LAWYERS(14)

Michael Mansfield QC, UK
Hilary Brown, solicitor, Virgo Consultancy Services Ltd
Nick Brown, barrister, Doughty Street Chambers, UK
Russell Fraser, barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
Valerie Easty, barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
Michael Ellman, solicitor, ex-chair of Solicitors' International Human Rights Group, UK
Toufique Hossain, Director of Public law & Immigration, Duncan Lewis Solicitors, UK
Alastair Lyon, solicitor, Birnberg Peirce and Partners, UK
Richard O'Keeffe, Head of Legal, United Voices of the World Union, UK    
Elizabeth M Millar, solicitor, UK
Frances Swaine, solicitor, Managing Partner, Leigh Day Solicitiors, UK
Matt Foot, solicitor, Birnberg Peirce Ltd, UK
Farhana Yamin, solicitor & climate activist, UK
Emily Burnham, non-practising solicitor, UK

 

ORGANISATIONS(41)

Gloria Peters, All African Women's Group, UK 
Rachel West, Bay Area Global Women's Strike, USA
Jacob Berkson, Brighton Migrant Solidarity, UK
Luke Daniels, Caribbean Labour Solidarity (President), UK
Kofi Thompson, Eco-Conscious Citizens group, Ghana
Niki Adams, English Collective of Prostitutes, UK
Pat Albright, Every Mother is a Working Mother Network/Phila., USA
Alex Burton, Global Justice Bloc, UK
Crissie Amiss, Global Women Against Deportation, UK
Selma James, Global Women’s Strike, UK          
Phoebe Jones, Global Women's Strike, USA       
Susan Englander, Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club, USA
Sukhdev Reel, Justice for Ricky Reel
Kate Raphael, LAGAI Queer Insurrection, USA
Nina Lopez, Legal Action for Women, UK 
Alice Griggs, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, UK
Brahm Press, MAP Foundation, Thailand
Sam Weinstein, Momentum Camden, UK
Leslie Miles, New Future Foundation, USA
Laura Connelly, Northern Police Monitoring Project, UK
Giorgio Riva, Payday, Italy
Ben Martin, Payday men's network, UK,
Eric Gjertsen, Payday men's network/Phila, USA
David Gibson, Peace, Justice, Sustainability NOW!, USA
Lisa Pedersen, Peace Builders of Orange County, USA
Temma Fishman, Philadelphia Ethical Society, USA
Rumana Hashem, Phulbari Solidarity Group, Bangladesh
Shandre Delaney. Human Rights Coalition Fed-Up, Pittsburgh PA, USA
Didi Rossi, Queer Strike, UK
Michael Kalmanovitz, Refusing to Kill initiative, UK
David Swanson, RootsAction Education Fund, UK
Kim Sparrow, Single Mothers’ Self-Defence, UK
Jacob Berkson, Sussex Refugee and Self Support Group, UK
Puni Selvaratnam, Tamil Women for Peace & Justice
William Mitchell, Toxicology & Industrial Hygiene Consulting, USA
LASSCAST collective, UK
Rachel West, USPROStitutes Collective, USA     
Cardiff People’s Assembly, Wales
Margaret Prescod, Women of Color/Global Women’s Strike
Sara Callaway, Women of Colour Global Women's Strike, UK
Roz Jones, #MeToo Survivors, USA

INDIVIDUALS
 
Adjeley Akwei, Ghana           
Adrienne Fong, USA
Adwoa Sey, Ghana
Agnes Williams, USA
Alissa Trotz, Canada/Guyana
Anna Thorburn, UK
Anne Hall, retired health care lecturer, UK
Anne Phoenix, UK
Anuradha Banerji, India
Barbara Gurley, USA
Berit Jordahl, USA,
Bill MacKeith, UK
Bob Goupillot, UK
C. Gill, UK
Carol Fern Culhane, USA
Carolyn Hill, USA
Chris Barraclough, UK
Clem Simon, BPP University, UK
David Tejeda, USA
Dawn Sanders, UK
Devon Ferrucci, USA
Diana Bohn, USA
Dorothea Leicher, USA
Dr Felicity de Zulueta, Emeritus Consultant Psychiatrist in Psychotherapy at SLaM NHS Foundation Trust and Honorary Senior Clinical Lecturer in KCL, UK

Dr Jonathan Fluxman, UK
Dr Laura Connelly, Lecturer in Criminology, University of Salford, UK
Dr Remi Joseph-Salisbury, Presidential Fellow in Sociology, University
of Manchester, UK

Dr. Susan Curtis, USA
Ellen E Barfield, USA
Estelle Cohenny, Thailand
Evelyn Bradley, UK
Farhana Yamin, UK
Fidel Asante, UK
Fitnat Adjetey Esq., Ghana   
Frances Gilmore, USA
Geoff Francis, RMT (personal capacity)
Gray Davis, UK                        
Halil SAVDA, Conscientious Objector and Human Rights Defender, UK
Jane Welford, USA
Janet Love, UK
John McCormick, USA
Julius Williams, Ghana          
Katharine Johnson, USA
Laura Sedgy, UK
Linda Ray, SEIU 1021 Delegate to San Francisco Labor Council, USA
Liz Hilton, Australia
Lorry Leader, UK
Maggie Ronayne, Lecturer at the National University of Ireland, Galway,Ireland
Manjeet Panesar, UK            
Marcella Pedersen, member of National Farmers Union, Canada
Marta Guttenberg, USA
Nana Asante, UK
Naomi Caplin, UK
Naomi L Vinbury, USA
Nasreen Mahmud, USA 
Nell Myhand, USA
Nohad Nassif, author, USA
Olivia Qasir, Pakistan
Pamela Hall, USA
Rona Rothman, USA
Salai Yaw Aung, Thailand
Shoda Rackal, UK
Shreena Shah, UK                  
Shreena Shah, UK
Sidney Ann Ross-Risden, USA
Sophia Vassilakidis, USA
Symran Saggar, UK  
Teresa Muldrow, USA
Yvonne P Benn, High School of Economics & Finance, USA

This Open Letter can also be found on the website of Global Women's Strike