Press Statement
PH Govt must urgently set up Commission to review all suspected cases of miscarriage of justice, in view of Anwar’s royal pardon
31 May 2018

We refer to the pardon granted by the King to Anwar Ibrahim over his Sodomy 2 conviction.

The royal pardon announced on 16 May, in the immediate aftermath of the general election, amounts to a recognition that there was a miscarriage of justice in the conviction and jailing of Anwar.

This raises the disturbing question as to how many other innocent persons are languishing in jail due to miscarriages of justice.

Anwar’s predicament received widespread coverage due to his status as a former DPM and high profile politician.

But ordinary convicts, who have been wrongfully convicted and jailed, have to suffer in silence.

Unlike Anwar, they simply do not have the resources or battery of lawyers to re-open their case or even keep their case in the public eye.

Therefore, it is imperative that a permanent Commission be established by the new Harapan government to look into suspected cases of miscarriage of justice, which has resulted in the jailing of innocent persons.

Otherwise, it is next to impossible to revisit the cases of unjustly jailed persons who have exhausted all their judicial appeals.

The existing power of the Federal court under rule 137 to review its own decisions ‘to prevent injustice’, is of little use to wrongly convicted persons. This is because rule 137 imposes a very high threshold test; and the court almost never exercises this power in criminal cases.

Anwar himself repeatedly filed reviews to quash his final conviction under rule 137, but failed each time.

Other Commonwealth countries have established mechanisms to review suspected miscarriages of justice.

In the U.K. there exists the Criminal Cases Review Commission ( CCRC ) which is a statutory body set up in 1995 to look into suspected cases of miscarriage of justice, and where appropriate to refer the cases back to the courts to be re-opened.

The government must learn the lessons of the notorious Anwar Sodomy cases, which brought shame to the country and disrepute to the Judiciary.

It is a great evil to leave an innocent man suffering in prison, with no possible remedy.

There must be an extra-judicial recourse for innocent persons wrongly imprisoned, whom the legal system had failed.

It is likely that there are hundreds of innocent persons languishing in our jails, desperately awaiting justice!

We urge the new government, which consists of political parties that have made Justice a central pillar of their political message, to move quickly to set up a Commission on Complaints of Miscarriage of Justice.

Released by:
N Surendran
Lawyers for Liberty