Lawyers for Liberty
Press Statement
31 July 2014

The police must stop misleading the public on a non-existent assembly offence

Lawyers for Liberty is shocked and appalled by ACP Asmawati Ahmad’s warning to groups assembling and protesting over a Muslim preacher’s “offensive” video clip (Bernama report 30 July 2014, “Police Advice Against Gatherings Over Video Clip”) that it was in breach of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 as the police had not received any notice under the Act.
The police should know that after the Court of Appeal’s landmark Nik Nazmi vs Public Prosecutor decision, section 9(5) of the Act that penalises organisers of peaceful assemblies with a fine of up to RM10,000 if they fail to provide the requisite 10 days’ notice, is no longer good law as it had been declared unconstitutional and therefore null and void.
Even ACP Asmawati Ahmad cannot feign ignorance as she had received Nik Nazmi’s judgment on behalf of the IGP when it was forwarded by lawyers and activists on the eve of the May Day/ anti-GST protest.
We would like to remind the police that Nik Nazmi’s decision is a historic, the most important judgment on fundamental rights since Merdeka – that sent the clearest possible message that every Malaysian citizen can assemble peacefully, a fundamental right that is guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and any attempt to criminalise peaceful assembly in whatever manner or form is unconstitutional.
Needless to say, the police cannot pick and choose the laws they want to enforce or ignore court decisions they disagree with as this can only lead to further disrepute and lawlessness in the police force, and consequently a breakdown in public confidence and law and order.
Let us be clear, until and unless the Federal Court was to reverse the decision of the Court of Appeal, it remains a good decision (to date, no hearing date has been fixed at the Federal Court). Consequently, there is no longer a recognisable offence under section 9(5) of the Act and it is extremely irresponsibly for the police to mislead the public and claim otherwise.
Released by:
Eric Paulsen
Executive Director
Lawyers for Liberty
31 July 2014
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