LFL Press Statement
8 January 2015
3 month jail contempt sentence for blogger, excessive and disproportionate
Lawyers for Liberty condemns the excessive and disproportionate three month jail sentence that was affirmed by the Federal Court today, on blogger Amizudin Ahmat for breaching a High Court order when he published on his blog 11 articles on the alleged rape of an Indonesian domestic worker by former Minister Rais Yatim.
In this internet day and age, with fast paced stream of information and social networking, it is abhorrent to think that one could go to jail for merely pasting hyperlinks and updating one’s blog on on-going cases.
Bearing in mind that decisions of the courts must be respected, a three month jail sentence imposed on a pro opposition blogger at the behest of a former Umno minister reeks of overkill and double standards especially when compared to the one day jail contempt of court sentence imposed on Ibrahim Ali which was eventually overturned by the Court of Appeal.
The imprisonment is a result of a civil defamation suit between two individuals, and therefore hardly a criminal matter that required imprisonment. The Federal Court had unfortunately failed to properly take into account the wider circumstances and context the articles were published. The blogger had continued to publish the articles in order to expose the grave injustice and crime that had allegedly been perpetrated, that remained not properly investigated despite being widely reported in the region. Further, the blogger has since deleted all the articles and apologised to the court.
This decision creates a bad precedent as it shows that rich and powerful men like Rais Yatim are able to display their influence by hiring high profile lawyers like Shafee Abdullah and putting an opinionated blogger in jail.
Lawyers for Liberty calls on the court to guard its dignity by its moral strength, and not by its powers of contempt which should only be exercised sparingly and in exceptional circumstances. In this case, the court has failed to temper justice with mercy and has acted in a harsh and disproportionate manner – a decision that unfortunately can only reinforce public perception that “justice” is only for the rich, powerful and well connected.
Lawyers for Liberty
8 January 2015
For more information, please contact:
Off: 03-7960 5688
Mobile: 012-259 9237
E-mail: [email protected]