KUALA LUMPUR: A human rights organisation today said there should be no need for consent or permission to organise assemblies in areas under local councils as these are public places and not under the purview of private owners.
Malaysian Centre for Constitutionalism and Human Rights director Edmund Bon said this was one of several issues highlighted for amendment in the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA) 2012.
“One of the issues is to outline the responsibilities and obligations of public authorities, including local councils and the police,” he said at an event here today.
“Another amendment is to extend the application of the right to peaceful assembly to all persons, in particular non-citizens and children.”
Bon said organisers’ failure to give prior notice of rallies should also be decriminalised, referring to the 2014 Court of Appeal decision on Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad.
Nik Nazmi who was Setiawangsa MP was charged under the PAA for failing to notify the police at least 10 days before the Blackout 505 rally on May 8.
He filed a case claiming that the PAA violates freedom of assembly, following which the court said it was unconstitutional to criminalise the failure to notify authorities in advance.
He was subsequently acquitted and discharged.
Bon also said the concept of spontaneous assemblies should be introduced and given legal recognition.
The PAA is among six laws which the Pakatan Harapan government has said will be amended or repealed. The others are the Sedition Act 1948, Prevention of Crime Act 1959, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015, Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984, and Security Offences Act 2012.