The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has condemned the ongoing harassment of Suaram activist Cynthia Gabriel, who is under a sedition probe.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Malaysia.
Brief description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed by Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) about the harassment against Cynthia Gabriel, Suaram Secretariat Member, allegedly in retaliation for Suaram’s role in exposing a corruption case involving the Malaysian government and related to the Scorpene submarine scandal, involving at least RM500m in suspected kickbacks.
According to the information received, on 7 August 2013, at 3.00pm, Cynthia Gabriel went to IPD Petaling Jaya police station to be investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948. The investigation took place after Suaram was informed that a police report was lodged against the organisation in relation to a fundraising dinner it organised on 19 July 2013 in order to raise funds for the Scorpene case, which is pursued by Suaram before a French court.
During the investigation of Cynthia Gabriel, the Investigating Officer did not share or detail the content of the police report that was reportedly brought against Suaram in regards to the Scorpene dinner. The questions focused on Suaram and its work generally, including its policies and positions, and paralleled the questions that were asked last year when Suaram faced investigations from the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM), the Registrar of Societies (RoS) and the police from July 2012 to March 2013. The intention of these investigations was also to harass and intimidate Suaram for its work on the Scorpene case; the RoS withdrew all pending notices against Suaram in March 2013.
The Observatory condemns the ongoing harassment of SUARAM members and calls on the Malaysian authorities to put an end immediately to the judicial harassment against Cynthia Gabriel, all Suaram members as well as against all human rights defenders and organisations operating in the country.
Please write to the authorities in Malaysia, urging them to:
i. Put an end to any kind of harassment – including at judicial level – against Cynthia Gabriel and all members of Suaram, as well as against all other human rights defenders in Malaysia, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;
ii. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:
– its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as
– its Article 12.2, which provides that the State shall “take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of his or her rights”;
iii. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Malaysia.
· Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak, Prime Minister, Prime Minister’s Office Malaysia, Main Block, Perdana Putra Building, Federal Government Administrative Centre, 62502 Putrajaya, Selangor, Malaysia. Fax: + 60 3 8888 3444, Email: email@example.com
· Mr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D, Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan, 62546 Putrajaya, Malaysia. Fax: +60 3 8889 1613 /8889 1610, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), Tingkat 11, Menara TH Perdana, Jalan Sultan Ismail, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, 50250 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Fax: +60 3 2612 5620; Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Mr. Mazlan Muhammad, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations in Geneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc H (1st floor), Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 710 75 01. Email: email@example.com
· Embassy of Malaysia in Brussels, 414 A avenue de Tervueren, 1150 Woluwe-Saint-Pierre, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 762 50 49. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic missions or embassies of Malaysia in your respective country as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Malaysia.
Geneva-Paris, 13 August 2013