Anwar seeks UN probe on Putrajaya over deprived rights

The Malay Mail Online
June 17, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — Jailed PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has submitted a request to a United Nations group to investigate Putrajaya for allegedly depriving him of his rights with a five-year term for sodomy.

Anwar’s international legal team said today that the opposition figure’s jail sentence was based on “fabricated sodomy charges” and that in truth, he was only imprisoned for because he represents “a democratic and non-violent threat” to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

“Anwar is experiencing a great injustice,” one of Anwar’s lawyers, Sivarasa Rasiah, was quoted saying in a press release today.

“The international community should be alarmed by the politically-motivated nature of Anwar’s conviction and jailing, which is part of a broader crackdown on political opposition and dissent in Malaysia,” he added.

According to the press release, human rights lawyer Jared Genser is leading Anwar’s legal team that had on Monday filed a case with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.

Anwar has requested the group – a quasi-judicial body under the UN Human Rights Council – to probe his detention and conclude that he is being held in violation of Malaysia’s obligations under international law.

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is chaired by a legal expert from South Korea and has four other legal experts from Benin, Mexico, Norway, Ukraine. It wields the authority to probe and issue legal opinions on alleged cases of arbitrary deprivation of liberty.

In Anwar’s June 15 case against Putrajaya, the 67-year-old former deputy prime minister claimed his detention deprived him of both his fundamental rights to freedom of opinion and expression, and right to political participation.

The deprivation of these rights are listed in the UN Working Group’s Category II classification for arbitrary detention.

Anwar also claimed that his detention is arbitrary under Category III as he was allegedly denied his rights to a fair trial, including through Putrajaya’s purported failure to provide an independent and impartial tribunal; the alleged withholding of key evidence from Anwar’s defence team; and lack of valid evidence to convict Anwar of sodomy.

Anwar’s lawyers claimed that Putrajaya’s denial of suitable detention conditions to fit his medical needs amounted to “cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment”, citing as examples the thin mattress and squat toilet initially provided despite his chronic back and spine injury.

His lawyers expressed concern over his weight loss of 6kg and irregular blood pressure as well as alleged harassment from prison guards, although they acknowledged he was finally shifted to the prison’s medical wing a month later.

While Anwar’s lawyers confirmed that he is seeking the Federal Court’s review of its February 10 conviction against him, they expressed doubt that such a bid would succeed.

“However, given the facts described above regarding the Federal Court hearing of Anwar’s appeal of this conviction, and given that the review will be heard by a panel of judges mostly lower in seniority to the panel that convicted him, Anwar’s prospects of succeeding in such a review remain remote,” Sivarasa and Jared told the UN group in the case filed on behalf of Anwar.

A review of Federal Court decisions can only be exercised in “extremely limited” situations, where the applicant would have to show actual bias or lack of jurisdiction by the tribunal or exceptional circumstances.

Anwar’s bid to seek a royal pardon was turned down by the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong and that decision cannot be challenged in court as it is final, the lawyers said.

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