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JAIS must not undermine right to silence and subvert constitutional order

16 Oct 2012

Civil Society Joint Press Statement

We, the undersigned NGOs, calls for the charge against social and art activist Faisal Mustafa, who was the distributor of Canadian author Irshad Manji’s banned book, to be dropped. 

The case has a significant consequence on the rule of law and constitutional order in Malaysia as Faisal was charged for exercising his right to silence during interrogation. 

The Managing Director of book distributor Merpati Jingga, was charged under Section 215 of Enakmen Tatacara Jenayah Syariah (Negeri Selangor) 2003 for telling the Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) officials that he would answer their questions in court. 

JAIS was then carrying out investigation on Merpati Jingga in connection with the Malay translation of Irshad Manji’s banned title, “Allah, Liberty & Love” (Allah, Kebebasan dan Cinta). 

JAIS’s decision to charge Faisal for his right to silence during interrogation, which is part of his constitutionally enshrined right to trial, is deeply disturbing and extremely alarming. 

Derived from English common law, the right to silence is a key measure to protecting citizens from arbitrary actions of the government, especially persecution of political and religious dissidents. 

By prosecuting Faisal, JAIS’ action has raised the question if the body has bent to demolish the right to silence and subvert Malaysia’s constitutional order. 

JAIS must take an unequivocal stand on this matter. It must affirm the citizens’ right not to self-incriminate or be compelled to be a witness against themselves.

Should the unreasonable charge against Faisal be allowed to proceed on 31st January 2013 as scheduled, the JAIS will be acting against not only the right to silence, but also the common law system and the Federal Constitution it is tasked to uphold, not undermine. 

Endorsing Organisations:

1.      Islamic Renaissance Front  (IRF)

2.      Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)

3.      Malaysians for Beng Hock (M4BH)

4.      Lawyer for Liberty (LFL)

5.      Sister In Islam (SIS)

6.      Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM)

7.      Centre for Independent Journalism

8.      Rumah Anak Teater (RAT Production)

9.      Buku Fixi

10.  Matahari Books

11.  ZI Publications

12.  Projek Rabak

13.  GOBOK Buku

14.  Merpati Jingga

15.  Civil Rights Committee of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC-KLSCAH)

16.  Tenaganita

17.  LLG Cultural Development Centre

18.  Pesatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan KL (PRIHATIN)

19.  Bahagian Persatuan Murid-murid Tua Sekolah Serdang Bharu

20.  Youth Section of The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall

21.  Kelab Bangsar Utama (KBU)

22.  Institusi Bangsar Utama(IBU)

23.  Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)

24.  Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)

25.  Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)

26.  Rumah Air Panas (RAP)

27.  Seksualiti Merdeka

28.  Selut Press

29.  Sang Freud Press

30.  Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia

31.  Frinjan