Malaysia urged to withdraw laws that undermine freedom of expression

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Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

The government of Malaysia has been urged by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to withdraw a law that he says seriously undermines freedom of expression.

On Tuesday, Malaysia's lower house of Parliament passed the Prevention of Terrorism Act which, among other things, allows the indefinite detention of individuals without trial.

Cathrine Hasselberg has more.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein says the law is in breach of Malaysia's Federal Constitution and its international human rights obligations.

He also urged the Government of Malaysia to withdraw its proposed amendments to the 1948 Sedition Act.

Mr Al Hussein noted that in 2013 the government committed itself to repealing the Act during its Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council.

He pointed out that the proposal to amend the Act, tabled on Tuesday, further broadens the scope of the offences and introduces harsher penalties, including up to 20 years imprisonment for so-called "aggravated" sedition.

The UN human rights chief also expressed concern about new provisions for travel bans that he says may allow for arbitrary restrictions against individuals on the basis of an ill-defined law.

According to the UN human rights office, since the beginning of 2014, close to 80 people have been investigated or charged under the Sedition Act and in 2015 alone, at least 36 individuals have already been investigated or charged.

Cathrine Hasselberg, United Nations.

Duration: 1’09″

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