Saturday, April 12, 2014

High Court dismisses application to strike out charges against HRD Lena Hendry

Lena Hendry filed an application to strike out the charges against her, but sadly the High Court on 11/4/2014 dismissed that application. Courts can strike out the charges, but the Malaysian government do also have the power to withdraw these charges...

The draconian Act makes it an offence to '...have in his possession or in his custody or under his control; or ... circulate, exhibit, distribute, display, manufacture, produce, sell or hire,..any film or film-publicity material which has not been approved...' by the Film Censorship Board. And "film" includes the original or duplicate of the whole or any part of-(a) a cinematograph film; and(b) a videotape, diskette, laser disc, compact disc, hard disc and other record,of a sequence of visual images, being a record capable of being used as a means of showing that sequence as a moving picture, whether or not accompanied by sound... - so, it will cover even CDs (or even 'computer flash drives') that may contain even talks, education material on labour, Human Rights, religious matters, slide or power-point presentations?, etc...

This law would have serious implications for human rights defenders, educators of rights, politicians and political parties, religious communities, business communities, etc as the usage of this 'film' as defined by this law is very wide... We are all expected to send these 'film' for approval of the Film Censorship Board...who, I expect, will not be approving quite a lot of these 'films'...which may be critical of current government and policy, that highlights rights and injustice, that empowers people as to their rights and freedoms,...and this is unacceptable.

The charging of Lena Hendry, I believe, is the first time Malaysia has used this draconian law in Malaysia, and more so against a Human Rights Defender. The 'film' was a documentary about the situation and human rights in Sri Lanka. Likewise, people may also be charged if it was about the Palestinian issue...

This be the reason why we must all campaign for the dropping of the charge against Lena Hendry, and more importantly for the repeal of this draconian law. People's freedoms and rights must be respected - governments should never try to control freedom of expression and opinion, freedom to be educated about rights violations, freedom to highlight injustices, freedom to be an active informed and involved member of the global human family. More details and updates about the case and campaign for HRD Lena Hendry could also be found on the internet and also the blog named In Defence of Lena Hendry 

ONLINE PETITION  - this is also something that you could go and sign, and even leave comments

See related post:  ARTICLE 19, ALIRAN, PROHAM, NUBE,WH4C & 111 Others say Drop Charges against Lena Hendry


Lena Hendry fails to strike out charge over film on Sri Lanka atrocities – Bernama

April 11, 2014
A Community Communication Centre programme coordinator failed to set aside a charge alleging that she had screened a documentary that had not been approved by the Film Censorship Board.

Lena Rasathi Hendry was charged in the Magistrate's Court last September 19 for screening an uncensored film, No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Chamber of Commmerce Hall at Jalan Maharajalela in Kuala Lumpur at 9pm on July 3, 2013.

The charge under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 carries a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000 or both, upon conviction.

She subsequently filed a motion to the High Court to strike out the charge on grounds that it violated Article 10 and Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

On November 25, she was granted a stay of her case, pending outcome of the application.

High Court Judge Kamardin Hashim in dismissing Lena's application today, said the imposition of restrictions by the Film Censorship Board was not ultra vires under Clause 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution and was emphasised in Clause (4(1) of the same Constitution.

"The onus is on the applicant to show how her rights had been violated or how she was discriminated against under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution. Her reluctance to do so will only end in a full stop for her application.

"The issue is, how are we going to monitor the contents of a film if it is not first screened by an independent body like the Board. Hence the practicality of Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002," said the judge.

Kamardin also ordered the case to proceed in the Magistrate's Court.

Meanwhile, counsel Edmund Bon said he would appeal to the Appeal Court against the decision.

Deputy public prosecutor Jean Sharmila Jesudason appeared for the prosecution. – Bernama, April 11, 2014.– Bernama - Malaysian Insider, 11/4/2014, Lena Hendry fails to strike out charge over film on Sri Lanka atrocities

High Court rules against activist charged with screening controversial documentary

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here dismissed a human rights activist's bid to quash charges against her for screening a controversial documentary, ruling the charges imposed a reasonable restriction against free speech.

Justice Kamardin Hashim dismissed Pusat Komas programme coordinator Lena Hendry's application to set aside two charges against her under the Film Censorship Act 2002. 

"The charges impose a limit against the freedom of speech and expression which is reasonable and proportional with the objectives and goals of the Act," said Justice Kamardin. 

The court found that the restrictions were not in contradiction of Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, which allows laws to impose on a person's freedom of speech in the interest of public security, order and morality. 

Justice Kamardin disagreed with counsel Edmond Bon's submission that the provisions under the Act constituted an unreasonable restriction as they formed an unjustified "prior restraint" on the right of speech and expression by prohibiting films from being displayed or circulated without prior approval of the Censorship Board.

"The question is: how do we ascertain the contents of a film, if it is not screened before an independent body like the Censorship Board?

"Considering documentaries and even cartoons are not free of negative and pornographic content, the Act is thus reasonable," read Justice Kamardin, in his 36-page grounds, on Friday. 

He also stated that the burden fell on the applicant (Hendry) to prove how her rights were violated by the charges.

"Failure to do so will put a full-stop to the application," said Justice Kamardin.

Programme coordinator for a human rights group Pusat Komas Lena Hendry claimed trial in a Magistrate's Court on Sept 19 to screening No Fire Zone, a documentary that had not been approved by the Censorship Board.

Under Section 6(1)(b) of Film Censorship Act, 2002, Hendry faces up to three years' prison or a fine not exceeding RM30,000, if convicted.

Hendry filed the application to the High Court registry to quash the charge on Nov 25, last year.

On July 3, 2013, three Pusat Komas activists - Anna Har, Arul Prakkash and Hendry - were arrested in a raid by the Home Ministry, when they attempted to screen the controversial documentary No Fire Zone at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, here.

The film No Fire Zone, directed by British national Callum Macrae, explores the oppression by the Sri Lankan government against Tamils in the island country. - Star, 11/4/2014, High Court rules against activist charged with screening controversial documentary 

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