ICJ to send prominent trial observer to Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy’s appeal

The ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers will send an observer to the hearing of the appeal of Date’ Param Cumaraswamy concerning the defamation action against him.

The appeal is to be heard tomorrow, 20 August 1997. Justice P.N. Bhagwati, former Chief Justice of India, former President of the World Congress on Human Rights and currently Chairman of the Advisory Board of ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers and member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee will attend the hearing tomorrow to observe the proceedings.

Dato’ Cumaraswamy is appealing from the 28 June 1997 decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court to dismiss his motion to strike out the defamation claim against him. He has been sued by two public corporations as a result of statements attributed to him in an article in a London-based magazine concerning the Malaysian judiciary. He was interviewed for the article in his capacity as United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers. In its decision, the High Court in Malaysia ignored the provisions of the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, to which Malaysia is a party. The Convention provides immunity from legal process to all UN Experts, including Special Rapporteurs. The Court also ignored the certificate given by Mr. Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General, which confirmed Dato’ Curnaraswamy’s immunity from legal process.

Justice Bhagwati will observe the appeal and report to ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers concerning the fairness of the proceeding.

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