Sedition charges against lawyer in Malaysia

Who we wrote to

The prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak.

What’s the issue

We’re concerned that the Sedition Act 1948 is being used to impose restrictions on members of the legal profession and others who express criticism regarding the actions of State authorities when representing their clients.

We previously expressed this concern in our letters on 17 March 2014, 2 October 2014 and 2 April 2015.

In August 2014, two separate sedition charges were brought against N Surendran under the Malaysian Sedition Act 1948 for comments he made while acting as the legal representative of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a criminal appeal on sodomy charges.

One charge relates to comments he made about the decision rendered by the Federal Court in Putrajaya against his client Mr Ibrahim.

The second charge concerns the publication of these comments on YouTube on 8 August 2014.

We understand that, on 24 June 2016, the High Court of Kuala Lumpur decided that the Sedition Act is constitutional, and the charges brought against Mr Surendran are valid.

We understand that Mr Surendran has appealed this judgment.

What we asked for

We urged the relevant authorities to:

  • dismiss the charges raised against Mr Surendran without delay
  • ensure that all lawyers and human rights defenders in Malaysia are free to carry out their professional duties without threats, intimidation, harassment or reprisals

Timeline

March 2014 – we sent a letter to the prime minister

August 2014 – two separate sedition charges were brought against Mr Surendran

October 2014 – we sent a letter to the prime minister

April 2015 – we sent a letter to the prime minister

June 2016 – the High Court of Kuala Lumpur decided that the Sedition Act is constitutional, and the charges brought against Mr Surendran are valid