The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is calling on the Malaysian Senate to take the opportunity to improve political freedoms in the country when a bill already adopted by the lower house of parliament to amend a controversial Sedition Act comes before it in the next few days.
The Sedition Act is aimed in part at regulating speech which could incite unrest or religious tension.
IPU has welcomed the removal from the new bill of a provision that makes it illegal for anyone to criticise the government or the judiciary. However, other amendments include harsher jail sentences for those found guilty on sedition charges and strengthen government powers to crack down on freedom of speech online.
“IPU urges the Malaysian Senate to not lose this critical moment to force a rethink on the issue as the country strives for democratic progress and respect for human rights,” says IPU President Saber Chowdhury. “Freedoms of expression, speech and assembly are fundamental democratic rights and need to be protected and enforced by parliament.”
IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, which is working on cases of alleged violations of the rights of nine opposition MPs in the country, will carry out a mission there next month. The cases include seven MPs who are either facing sedition charges or are being investigated on the same issue, such as Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter Nurul Izzah. She was briefly arrested in March for criticising her father’s sentencing during a speech in parliament.
The IPU mission will also follow up on investigations being carried out on three of the MPs for attending a “Kita lawan” (We fight) rally in Kuala Lumpur on 7th March calling for the release of Anwar Ibrahim.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) is the global organization of national parliaments. It works to safeguard peace and drives positive democratic change through political dialogue and concrete action.
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