Norhayati Ariffin is only allowed to use the report in her civil suit and cannot disclose its contents to third parties, court rules.
PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Lumpur High Court has ordered Putrajaya to release a special task force’s classified report on the disappearance of Amri Che Mat to the missing activist’s wife.
Lawyer Surendra Ananth who appeared for Amri’s wife, Norhayati Ariffin, said the court ordered that the report be disclosed to her within one month from today.
“The applicant (Norhayati) can only use the report for the purposes of her civil suit. She and her lawyers are prohibited from disclosing it to third parties,” he told reporters after Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh’s decision.
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Surendra said the judge held that a decision by a public officer to classify a document under Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) can be subject to challenge.
“The court said a certificate under Section 16A is not final and conclusive as to the validity of the classification,” he said.
The government was represented by senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan and Ahmad Hanir Hambaly.
Amri, the founder of the NGO Perlis Hope, left his home in Kangar at about 11.30pm on Nov 24, 2016. His car was found at a construction site at the Bukit Cabang Sports School early the next morning.
Between 2017 and 2019, Suhakam held a public inquiry into Amri’s disappearance.
In 2021, the human rights commission concluded that Amri was a victim of an enforced disappearance carried out by the state, specifically by the police’s Special Branch.
In response, the home ministry established a task force to investigate Suhakam’s conclusions. It was given six months to complete its report.
Neither the ministry nor the task force has released the report despite repeated calls to do so by various parties, including Suhakam and other NGOs.
In December 2021, Norhayati filed a suit at the Kuala Lumpur High Court seeking an order that the government declassify its report on her husband’s disappearance.
In the application to initiate a judicial review, she sought to set aside several provisions in the OSA under which the report had been classified.
She also wanted the court to declare as unconstitutional the government’s decision to classify a report by the special task force on the disappearance of Amri and Pastor Raymond Koh as secret.
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