Rights group calls for sedition charge against Iswardy to be dropped

PKR man’s case is first known to be charged under Sedition Act this year, says ‘Article 19’ group.

Human rights group Article 19 has called for the sedition charge against PKR member Iswardy Morni, who has been accused of criticising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong over the government’s Covid-19 management in a social media video, to be dropped.

Article 19 programme officer for Malaysia E Nalini said the charge under the Sedition Act 1948 was the first known one for the year.

“The law is incompatible with international human rights law and has frequently been used to target activists, journalists, and others expressing critical opinions.

“Authorities must stop initiating criminal proceedings against social media users who criticise public figures, and public figures, in turn, must stop hiding behind draconian laws to protect themselves from public scrutiny,” Nalini said in a statement today (June 2).

She said the use of the Sedition Act 1948 was further evidence of the government’s utter intolerance for dissenting opinions.

“Successive governments have used the Sedition Act to stifle dialogue and silence critical voices.

“The Act is fundamentally incompatible with the right to freedom of expression and has no place in a free and democratic society. It will continue to cast a shadow over civic life until it is repealed in its entirety,” she added.

Yesterday, Iswardy pleaded not guilty to making statements with seditious tendencies.

The charge against him was framed under Section 4(1)(a) of the Sedition Act 1948 and is punishable with a fine of up to RM5,000 or imprisonment for a maximum of three years, or both.

MALAYSIAKINI

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