LFL Press Statement
4 March 2015
Peaceful assembly is not an offence under the Peaceful Assembly Act or any other laws
Lawyers for Liberty is shocked and appalled by Dang Wangi police chief ACP Zainol Samah’s announcement that this Saturday’s “Kita Lawan” rally was “illegal” and warned that it was in breach of the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) as the police had not received any notice under the Act.
ACP Zainol Samah should not feign ignorance and must know that after the Court of Appeal’s landmark Nik Nazmi vs Public Prosecutor decision, section 9(5) of the PAA 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.
Further, there is no such power for the police to pre-empt and declare any rally as “illegal” under the PAA or any other laws.
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 Article 10 of the Federal Constitution and any attempt to criminalise peaceful assembly in whatever manner or form is unconstitutional.
Consequently, there is no longer a recognisable offence under section 9(5) of the PAA and it is extremely irresponsible for the police to mislead the public and claim otherwise. The police cannot pick and choose the laws they want to enforce or ignore court decisions they disagree with.
We urge the police to respect the people’s right to peaceful assembly as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution and further call on the police to facilitate the rally instead of hindering it.
Lawyers for Liberty
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