Malaysia: Anwar verdict will have chilling effect on freedom of expression

 

A Malaysian court’s decision to uphold a “sodomy” conviction against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and to hand him a five-year prison sentence is an oppressive ruling that will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country, Amnesty International said.

 

Malaysia’s Federal Court, the highest court in the country, today upheld the decision of an appeal court to overturn Anwar Ibrahim’s acquittal on long-standing ‘sodomy’ charges, which date back to 2008, and sentenced him to five years in prison.

 

“This is a deplorable judgment, and just the latest chapter in the Malaysian authorities’ relentless attempts to silence government critics. The ‘sodomy’ charges against Anwar Ibrahim have always been politically motivated, and he should be released immediately,” said Richard Bennett, Amnesty International’s Asia Pacific Director.

 

“The Malaysian judiciary missed an opportunity to demonstrate its independence from political interference. We consider Anwar Ibrahim to be a prisoner of conscience – jailed solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression.”

 

“The attempts to silence the opposition leader come amidst a wider crackdown on dissenting voices in Malaysia. The authorities have over the past year made increasing use of the draconian Sedition Act to target journalists, politicians and academics they find inconvenient. This practice must end immediately.”