Free Anwar, arbitrarily imprisoned for two years, urge rights groups

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Photograph: themalaymailonline.com

Malaysian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release former opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, reinstate his right to run for political office, and award him compensation for the arbitrary deprivation of liberty to which he has been subjected, International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its member organisation Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) have said.

The two organisations make the call on the two-year anniversary of Anwar’s latest imprisonment. Anwar is currently incarcerated in Sungai Buloh prison, Selangor State.

“Anwar’s imprisonment is the result of a long-standing politically motivated persecution that must end today. The only way this ugly stain can be wiped from Malaysia’s human rights record is by immediately releasing Anwar,” said FIDH President Dimitris Christopoulos.

Anwar has been detained since 10 February 2015, when the Federal Court in Putrajaya upheld the Court of Appeals’ decision to convict Anwar on charges of sodomy (Article 377 of the Criminal Code) and sentenced him to five years in prison. The FIDH observed the Court of Appeals’ and the Federal Court’s hearings of Anwar’s trial and found that the proceedings failed to meet international standards for fair trials.

On 18 January 2017, the Court of Appeals ruled that Anwar has standing to petition the Federal Court to determine if he has the constitutional right to challenge the Pardons Board’s decision to reject his request for clemency. A date for the case to be heard in the Federal Court has not been set.

Anwar’s family filed a petition for a royal pardon to the Malaysian King on 24 February 2015. The request was rejected by the Pardons Board, which advises the King on candidates for clemency, on 16 March 2015.

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On 24 June 2015, Anwar and his family filed a legal challenge against the Pardons Board’s decision. On 15 July 2016, the Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed Anwar’s challenge.

If his bid to obtain clemency fails, Anwar is expected to be released by mid-2018, as a result of the Malaysian practice to grant a one-third reduction of jail terms to prisoners with good behavior. However, the conviction renders him ineligible to stand as a candidate in the next general election, which must be held by 2018.

In an opinion issued on 1 September 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UNWGAD) deemed Anwar’s detention arbitrary. The UNWGAD called for Anwar’s immediate release and for his political rights to be reinstated.

“The Malaysian government’s ongoing refusal to implement the UN’s ruling that found Anwar’s detention to be arbitrary is deplorable. It’s time for the government to stop ignoring findings from UN human rights
mechanisms and immediately release Anwar,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy.

As long as Anwar remains incarcerated, the FIDH and Suaram reiterate their call for Malaysian authorities to guarantee him his prisoner rights – including the right to receive adequate medical care in accordance with relevant international standards.

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