Human Rights Watch says that the Malaysian government should address the people's concerns on Section 114 of the Evidence Act instead of giving excuses.
Its deputy director for Asia, Phil Robertson said this in a statement, responding to the government’s insistence on retaining the Section 114A of the Evidence Act.
On Thursday, Bernama reported Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nazri Aziz as saying that the government would retain the amendment, claiming it protects public interest.
He said that the Act could help thwart any attempt by certain elements wanting to harm the country.
“I did not hesitate to table the bill in Parliament in April because I thought that the amendment was necessary for the security of the country,” Nazri was reported saying.
However, the government’s defiance received flak from various civil society movements including Suhakam which said that Section 114A violates the human rights principles of freedom of expression as enshrined in Article 19 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
He also said that the government should address them rather than harping on who said what at the Parliament when the amendment was debated.
“There are concerns about the due process and the impact on freedom of expression that need to be addressed, as seen by the wide support for the Centre of Independent Journalism (CIJ)-led Internet blackout action,” said Robertson.
On August 14, CIJ organised an Internet Blackout Day which saw many civil society movements going offline in support of the campaign.