Malaysia: ICJ condemns Anwar verdict

anwar-ibrahimThe ICJ strongly condemns the sentencing by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur of former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and his adopted brother Sukma Darmawan for alleged sodomy.They were sentenced to nine years and six years of imprisonment respectively.

The ICJ is not satisfied of the adequacy and fairness of the processes in reaching this verdict.

It is particularly concerned at the prosecution’s amendment of the date of the alleged offences, the (in)admissibility of certain evidence, failure to permit the calling of some defence witnesses and the (im)partiality of the presiding judge (who was subject to an unsuccessful application for removal by defence counsel).

Mr Anwar’s mistreatment, including his beating during detention, was contrary to international human rights standards. The sentences imposed are wholly disproportionate to the alleged offences committed. The comments by Prime Minister Mahatir during the trial were, moreover, prejudicial and entirely inconsistent with a free and independent judiciary.

The ICJ deplores Executive manipulation of the judiciary and use of the criminal justice system to launch politically motivated prosecutions and muzzle dissent. This is an anathema to the Rule of Law.

In April this year, the ICJ’s Centre for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers in conjunction with the International Bar Association, the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and the Union internationale des avocats issued a report entitled Justice in Jeopardy: Malaysia 2000. That report concluded that the extremely powerful Executive in Malaysia did not respect the constitutional independence of the judiciary. That conclusion is vindicated by this verdict.

It is also a mater of grave concern that Malaysian law criminalises consenting sexual acts in private. This is contrary to international human rights standards including freedom from discrimination and the right to privacy.

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