Human Rights Round-up (12/06/2020)

  1. Federal Court: Death Penalty is Constitutional

#DeathPenalty

In a nine-member bench, the Federal Court held on 9th June that amendments to make the death penalty mandatory for cases involving drug trafficking and murder were constitutional.

DPP Nik Suhaimi submitted it is within the legislature’s power to enact or amend laws that they think is appropriate, while the courts carry out the process of sentencing after finding an accused person guilty.

Meanwhile, defense lawyer Gopal Sri Ram contended the removal of court discretion in passing down sentences amounted to an interference of judicial function, and that then legislature’s response to the drug trafficking problem was disproportionate.

2. Edict Raised Alarm Over Death in Custody

#DeathinCustody

Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together (EDICT), has raised concerns over the death of a Nepalese national at the Jinjang lock-up in Kuala Lumpur.

EDICT said the body was not viewed in-situ or on site by the coroner as required by law. EDICT also raised a Practice Directive effective 8 March 2019 which stipulates that the coroner needs to view the body in-situ only if the investigating officer considers it necessary; and call upon the Chief Registrar to advise whether that Directive is still in force.

3. Restriction of Freedom of Expression On The Rise

(Centre for Independent Journalism)

#FreedomofSpeech #FreedomofExpression

Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have observed a recent spike in charges under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act.

Recent examples are journalist Tashny Sukumaran for reporting immigration raids, C4 Centre founding director Cynthia Gabriel for calls to probe into alleged government irregularities, and opposition MP Dr Xavier Jayakumar for criticizing a shortened Parliament sitting.


CIJ reminds that limits on the freedom of expression must be proportionate; measures to address online infringement must meet the harm test to determine legitimacy, necessity and proportionality.

4. Second largest Covid-19 cluster – Bukit Jalil immigration detention centre

(Aliran)

#MigrantsRights

As of 10 June, the Ministry of Health announced the second largest Covid-19 cluster, after the Sri Petaling Tabligh cluster, is in Bukit Jalil immigration detention centre –  the number of positive cases recorded thus far is 609. 

Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM) and Aliran have raised alarms on the matter. AIM urged the government to decongest the detention centres to prevent Covid-19 outbreaks, provide access to treatment to the detainees who have tested positive, and provide hose who are not infected adequate preventative measures that all in Malaysia have, without discrimination.

5. Revealing someone’s medical condition on social media is a tort

(Kelsey Farish)

#RighttoPrivacy

In a series of unpleasant exchanges of Facebook comments, a man posted his niece’s (the claimant) struggles with mental health and self harm. 

Although only a small number of people read the comment, it contained very sensitive, confidential medical information. On the facts, the court found that the disclosure caused significant prejudice to the claimant’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The High Court held the claimant’s Article 8 rights far outweighed her uncle’s Article 10 rights to freedom of expression, and ordered him to pay his niece £15,000.

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