Malaysia: ICJ welcomes court decision acquitting human rights defender Lena Hendry

The ICJ welcomes the decision of the Magistrate Court to dismiss the charges against Lena Hendry for her involvement in 2013 screening of No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka, an award-winning human rights documentary on the civil war in Sri Lanka.

Magistrate Mohamad Rehab Mohd Aris determined that the prosecution failed to prove a prima facie case against Lena Hendry (photo).

As a consequence, she did not have to enter her defense.

“We welcome the decision of the Magistrate’s Court to clear Lena Hendry from all charges,” said Emerlynne Gil, ICJ’s Senior International Legal Adviser.

“We must emphasize though that subjecting Lena Hendry in the first place to criminal prosecution simply for screening this documentary violated her human rights and contravenes Malaysia’s obligations to uphold freedom of expression,” she added.

“We should remember that the provision in the Film Censorship Act 2002 used against Lena Hendry remains on the books and still operative. It can still be used to stifle the voices of other human rights defenders in Malaysia,” Gil further said.

Lena Hendry was charged under section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 for allegedly showing the film without prior authorization by the Board of Censors.

The said provision prohibits any person to circulate, exhibit, distribute, display, manufacture, produce, sell, or hire any film or film publicity material that has not been approved by the Board of Censors.

If Lena Hendry had been found guilty, she could have faced a fine of up to RM30,000 (approximately US$6,900) and/or a sentence of up to three years imprisonment.

The ICJ reiterates its call to the Government of Malaysia to safeguard freedom of expression and uphold the right of individuals to elaborate and disseminate information, including on questions of public import and the documentation of human rights abuses.


Emerlynne Gil, Senior International Legal Adviser for Southeast Asia, t: +66 840923575 ; e:

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