Landmark Court of Appeal judgment in Nik Nazmi vs Public Prosecutor
25 April 2014
Lawyers for Liberty welcomes the Court of Appeal’s landmark Nik Nazmi vs Public Prosecutor decision today that declared section 9(5) of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, a provision that penalises organisers of peaceful assemblies with a fine of up to RM10,000 if they fail to provide the requisite 10 days’ notice, as unconstitutional.
This is a historic, first of its kind judgment 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. The judgment further makes clear that under the PAA, the authorities concerned do not have powers to declare any peaceful assembly as illegal or require their consent or licence before assembling.
The Court of Appeal’s judgment has far reaching implications beyond Nik Nazmi and other similar persons charged under the PAA who should also be similarly discharged and acquitted.
What this judgment really means is that the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers who have only applied the PAA selectively and in bad faith against the opposition and civil society can no longer do so. All Malaysians irrespective of their political beliefs or background can now exercise their fundamental right to peaceful assembly without fear of being targeted by the authorities.
The struggle to reclaim the people’s right to peaceful assembly was a hard fought and uphill battle – from the days of Reformasi, Hindraf, Bersih, Lawyers’ Walk for Justice, Blackout 505, Occupy and Turun where the people faced threats, harassment, violence, chemical-laced water cannons, tear gas canisters, arrest, detention and criminal charges – but they persevered and today their struggle was vindicated.
Prime Minister Najib Razak should really stand by his 2011 Malaysia Day promise of reform and transformation and not appeal further this landmark decision as this can only enhance our country’s democratic and human rights values.
Lastly, we would like to dedicate this victory to the late Karpal Singh, who had inspired all of us to be fearless and to fight the good fight in upholding our Constitution and all the rights therein.
Lawyers for Liberty
25 April 2014
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