The ICJ today condemned as a miscarriage of justice, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim’s conviction on sodomy charges.
The ICJ said the overturning of his 2012 High Court acquittal — following an appeal by the Malaysian government — by a Court of Appeal panel contravenes international human rights standards and the rule law.
“The ICJ condemns the use of the colonial-era Article 377B of the Malaysian Penal Code, which prohibits consensual same-sex sexual conduct, in conflict with international standards regarding respect for the right to privacy,” said Sam Zarifi, ICJ’s Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific.
“This article is seldom used in Malaysia, but this is the second time it has been used to convict Anwar, and both times its use seemed clearly motivated to hobble his ability to challenge the government as a politician.”
The sodomy charges against Anwar, which date back to 2008, were dismissed by the High Court on 9 January 2012, but the Court of Appeal today overturned that acquittal and instead sentenced Anwar to five years’ imprisonment. The Court of Appeal ruling took less than two hours.
The ICJ has been observing the proceedings in what has been called Anwar’s ‘Sodomy 2’ trial. ICJ Commissioner Justice Elizabeth Evatt AC, from the Australian High Court and a former member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, was at the Court of Appeal today on behalf of the ICJ.
“This decision certainly casts doubts on the independence and impartiality of the Malaysian judiciary and tarnishes the reputation of the country’s legal system,” said Zarifi.
The judgement means Anwar will not be able to run for election in a local state seat later this month.
After sentencing, Anwar’s lawyers were successful in arguing for a stay in execution and bail, pending appeal.
Sam Zarifi, ICJ Asia-Pacific Regional Director, (Bangkok), t:+66 807819002, e-mail: sam.zarifi(a)icj.org
Craig Knowles, ICJ Media & Communications, (Bangkok), t:+66 819077653, e-mail: craig.knowles(a)icj.org