Film Censorship Act is a bad law, says activist

ivy-josiahPETALING JAYA: Human rights activist Ivy Josiah has condemned the Film Censorship Act as a bad law for criminalising freedom of expression.

Commenting on the conviction of fellow activist Lena Hendry, Josiah questioned the “persecution” for airing a documentary on the Sri Lankan civil war.

“What she did was deemed as a crime, that is, for not getting the necessary approval to screen a movie.

“The law itself is a bad law, and Lena may end up in jail or paying a fine for that,” she said at a press conference in Pusat Komas here today.

Last week, Lena was found guilty by the Magistrates Court for screening an uncensored documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”.

She is set to be sentenced on March 22.

The documentary, directed by Callum Macrae, tells the story of the final months of the 26-year Sri Lankan war.

Josiah said the charge against Lena was “petty, nasty and unnecessary”.

“We believe in the freedom of expression, and this documentary was based on facts over what happened in the Sri Lankan civil war,” she said.

She added that civil society groups would go out and show the documentary again because the film touches on human rights issues in Sri Lanka.

“We believe in the freedom of expression,” she said, without elaborating on when and where these civil society groups would be carrying out the screening.

Meanwhile, Lena said she was baffled as to why she was the only one slapped with the charge.

“The documentary was shown many times here by other groups and even at the International Anti-Corruption Conference two years ago,” she said, adding that they were not slapped with charges under the Film Censorship Act.

“This is not a porn (movie) or movie that promotes violence. It is an investigative documentary,” she said.

Lena said the conviction would bring serious consequences to her life.

“I may face restrictions for travelling as long as the conviction is not quashed,” she said.