Thursday, December 14, 2017

HRD Lena Hendry drops appeal on conviction and sentence?

For showing a human rights video “No Fire Zone”, that explores the alleged oppression by the Sri Lankan government of Tamils in the island nation, HR Defender Lena Hendry was charged in court - Why? Because Malaysia has a draconian law. that says "...(1) No person shall-(a) have in his possession or in his custody or under his control; or (b) circulate, exhibit, distribute, display, manufacture, produce, sell or hire, any film or film-publicity material which has not been approved by the Board.(FILM CENSORSHIP ACT 2002) ...the Bord being the Film Censorship Board.

A draconian law in this modern age of satelite TV, etc ( surely the Censorship Board cannot be vetting all that we see on TV)...Well, there is also on circulation video on all kinds of things from political speeches,  and documentation of all kinds of thing ..including human rights violation, 'free and fair elections' ...BUT when it involved a Human Rights group and HR Defender, it was undermines freedom of expression, freedom of information and freedom of opinion...and this is why there was widespread condemnation of Malaysia for what it did...

Lena Hendry was finally found guilty and fined RM10,000...She appealed to the Court of Appeal against her conviction and sentence ...while the prosecution appealed with regard the sentence..

In any event, Pusat Komas have just issued a media statement(see below) saying that an agreement has been reached and both parties have withdrawn their respective appeals - That means, the conviction stands and the fine will have to be paid..

Well, considering the state of the Malaysian judiciary, more so when we are facing possibly the '2nd Judicial Crisis', whereby the number ONE and TWO of the Malaysian judiciary, who was supposed to have retired, have had their terms of tenure and office extended by contracts of 3 and 2 years respectively. This, in my opinion, undermines the necessary safeguard 'security of tenure' which was placed there to ensure judicial independence. 'Security of Tenure' should mean that once appointed judges cannot be removed by government/King until their retirement date, but if the government/King could extend not just tenure(but also office) beyond the end date - the very object of of 'Security of Tenure' is lost...Maybe, what Lena Hendry did was smart...

General Elections is coming but will the Opposition parties, at the very least, commit to repealing such laws that undermine freedom of information, freedom of expression, freedom of opinion...OR, when they win, they will do nothing, keeping such laws as a 'weapon' they can use if the need arises against ...??

See earlier post:-

HRD Lena Hendry found Guilty - A Sad day for Human Rights? 

HR Defender Lena Hendry Acquitted by Court - Draconian law remains..?

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

Lena Hendry - Drop Charges says ICJ, Article 19, FIDH, Front Line, OMCT & 116 other groups

HRD Lena Hendry - 10/3/2016 - Court decides on ACQUITAL or Enter Your Defence - call your witnesses?


14th December 2017
The Public Prosecutor and the defence lawyer of Lena Hendry have both agreed to withdraw their respective appeals to the conviction and sentence on 14 December 2017. This follows the conviction and sentencing of human rights defender Lena Hendry took place on 22 March 2017, where she was made to pay a heavy fine of RM10,000 for screening a human rights documentary.
The prosecution had appealed against the sentence of Lena Hendry, requesting a heavier sentence, while the defence had appealed against the conviction and sentence on 18th March 2017. The appeal has been set for hearing on 14 December 2017.
This is a welcome development in Lena’s case because Lena has been subjected to a long process of being arrested, detained, charged and convicted in the Magistrate’s Court under Section 6 of the Film Censorship Act for the screening of the human rights documentary “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, a film on human rights violations in Sri Lanka. Lena’s case is an emblematic case of the continued harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders across Malaysia who face reprisals when speaking up against injustice. 
We reaffirm that we strongly believe that Lena has been unjustly targeted and persecuted for merely carrying out her human rights work and she should instead be provided with protection and recognition for the work she has been doing as a human rights defender. Human rights defenders and government critics in Malaysia continue to be at risk of arrest, detention and judicial harassment for speaking out.
We would like to strongly remind the authorities and their relevant agencies that the free speech and expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution under Article 10 and in international law. Moreover, the Malaysian government must also be reminded that it voted for the recognition and protection of human rights defenders in a United Nations General Assembly in November 2015. It is our hope that the Malaysian government will fulfil promises made in the international arena.
We maintain that Lena Hendry should have never been charged in the first place and it is our hope that this act by the Public Prosecutor will signal a positive move towards ending of the harassment and intimidation of Lena Hendry.  We call on the Malaysian government to end the harassment of government critics and human rights defenders and to take measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders against any violence, threats, or retaliation in relation to their work on human rights.

Statement Prepared by,

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