FIDH, Suaram: Anwar Ibrahim must be freed

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Photograph: themalaymailonline.com

The FIDH and Suaram have demand that Malaysian authorities guarantee Anwar his prisoner rights,  including the rights to receive adequate medical care and access to a legal counsel.

Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and allow him to receive proper medical attention, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) said on 10 December 2015 on the 10-month anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment.

Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor.

“The ongoing detention of Anwar Ibrahim is the tip of the iceberg of the government’s ongoing crackdown against political opponents and critics. Anwar’s immediate and unconditional released would be a positive first step towards addressing the deteriorating human rights situation in Malaysia,” said FIDH president Karim Lahidji.

On 10 February 2015, the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ conviction of Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. Anwar’s imprisonment was the result of a politically motivated prosecution that resulted in criminal proceedings that failed to meet international standards of fair trial. The FIDH observed the Court of Appeals’ and Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial.

On 21 October 2015, in a decision on Malaysia issued at its 197th session, the Inter-Parliamentary Union said it feared that Anwar’s conviction “may be based on considerations other than legal”.

In an opinion issued at its 73rd session on 1 September 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

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In addition, the UNWGAD’s opinion considered that Anwar’s treatment during his detention “may have violated the prohibition of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment under Article 5 of the UDHR [Universal Declaration of Human Rights]”.

The former opposition leader has faced difficulties receiving proper medical attention in Sungai Buloh prison. Anwar’s supervising doctor in the prison, appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs, has repeatedly denied him access to recommended regular and intensive physiotherapy for a serious shoulder injury, which has worsened since his detention.

The denial of adequate medical care runs counter to international norms. Article 22(2) of the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners states that “sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialised institutions or to civil hospitals”.

Anwar also suffers from chronic arthritis, gastritis, irregular blood pressure, intestinal bleeding, and has a growth on his kidney. His prison doctor has denied him timely access to doctors of his choice and necessary medical testing.

Since early September, prison authorities have restricted Anwar’s access to his lawyers to one hour per week, despite the fact that he is involved in at least 16 ongoing court cases as plaintiff or defendant.

This restriction is a breach of his fundamental rights guaranteed under Malaysian law and the Malaysian Constitution and is against international standards. Principle 18 of the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment states that an imprisoned person “shall be allowed adequate time” for consultation with his legal counsel.

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In addition, the Ministry of Home Affairs has denied several foreign embassies and organisations prison visits to Anwar. On 5 November 2015, Malaysia’s Prison Affairs Division, under the Ministry of Home Affairs, rejected a request to visit Anwar made by FIDH three days earlier. No explanation was given for the denial of the visit.

“The persecution of Anwar Ibrahim did not end with his conviction ten months ago – it is continuing behind bars. It’s time for the authorities to immediately put an end all acts of harassment against him,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy.

FIDH and Suaram demand Malaysian authorities guarantee Anwar his prisoner rights, including the rights to receive adequate medical care and access to a legal counsel, in accordance with relevant international standards.

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