Press Statement

Stop all prosecutions under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 pending outcome of test case

30 April 2018

I refer to news reports that a Danish man is to be charged today under the Anti-Fake News Act 2018 ( AFN 2018).

The legal challenge to the constitutionality and validity of the AFN 2018 is now pending before the KL High Court, through the test case filed by Mkini.Dot.Com last week.

I am surprised and disappointed that enforcement and prosecution under the AFN 2018 is being carried on despite the pending test case and widespread public concern.

It must be remembered that the AFN 2018 has been the subject of great public criticism and concern due to its excessively wide scope and questionable legality.

Section 3 of the AFN 2018 makes any news wholly or partly false an offence, even though it does not affect public order. This clearly runs foul of the permitted restrictions to freedom of speech allowed in Article 10(2)(a) of the federal constitution.

What is the difficulty in waiting for the court’s pronouncement upon its legality in the test case, before enforcing the Act?

Bringing criminal charges against a person is a serious matter. Surely where the legality of the law has been a question of national debate, enforcement should await the authoritative decision of the courts.

Further, the case of this Danish national nicely illustrates the dangers posed by the AFN 2018 to the public’s right to freedom of expression.

According to news reports, the case against him arises from a complaint regarding police response time in a shooting case.
Complaints of this nature, even if found to be later incorrect, should not be criminalised. The public should be free to make complaints against the authorities without the fear that they may end up facing criminal charges, if they were to get their facts wrong.

I call upon the Home Minister and A-G to halt all enforcement and prosecution under the AFN 2018 pending the outcome of the test case now awaiting hearing in the KL High Court.

Released by:
N Surendran
Lawyers for Liberty