Chen Shaua Fui
KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 19): Human rights activist Lena Hendry claimed trial today to a charge of screening a documentary without approval from the Film Censorship Board.
She was released on a RM1,000 bail and a surety by the magistrate’s court here today. Judge Ashraf Rezal Abd Manan fixed Oct 21 for mention.
The Pusat Komas programme officer was charged under Section 6(1)(b) of Film Censorship Act 2002 for showing the documentary titled ‘No Fire Zone: The Killing Field of Sri Lanka’ at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall on July 3.
The film was reported to have highlighted war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government during the 2009 civil war.
Lena’s counsel New Sin Yew said she will file a motion to the High Court to strike out the charge on the ground that it violated Article 10 and Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.
Article 10 guarantees the rights of expression, while Article 8 says all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.
Upon conviction, Lena could face a fine of RM5,000 to RM30,000 and maximum jail term of three years, or both.
New also argued that Section 6(1)(b) was unconstitutional as it gives a blanket ban on all moving pictures, like films, documentary, wedding videos, unless an approval was obtained from the Board.
New also said there were no clear regulations or guidelines by the home minister on whether a film or documentary is banned or approved.
Tan Jo Hann, Pusat Komas director, slammed the authority for allowing “a racist film” like ‘Tanda Putera’ to be screened in the cinemas nationwide, while an activist is charged for showing a documentary for educational purposes.
He reiterated that the Film Censorship Act is a draconian law which violates the fundamental human rights enshrined under the Federal Constitution.
Co-counsel Andrew Khoo pointed out that the documentary was allowed to show in the Parliament on the same day.
Khoo also highlighted that for the last two years Malaysia had abstain from voting on the United Nation Human Rights Council resolution to investigate the Sri Lankan atrocity.
Previously, Malaysia voted against the resolution, he added. However, the government did not allowed the documentary to be screened to the public.
After posting bail at 1.10pm, Lena said that the charge was unnecessary as Komas had just shown a documentary highlighting the genocide of the Tamil people in Sri Lanka.
“The Malaysian government – as a member of the UN human rights council and UN security council – should not be prosecuting those who highlight violation of human rights. Instead, it is their job to protect those who are oppressed,” she said.