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Joint Statement: Malaysian Federal Court Decision a Setback to Media Freedom

23 February 2021.

CLD joins with Malaysian and international media organisations and freedom of expression groups to voice concern over the conviction of Malaysian news outlet Malaysiakini on contempt of court charges. This conviction could have serious impacts on the exercise of freedom of expression throughout the country.

The conviction is based on five comments left by third parties in the comments section of a news article on the decision to re-open Malaysia’s courts. It reflects a reliance on an archaic “scandalising the court” approach to contempt of court which does not adequately protect public criticism of the judiciary, as well as an inappropriate imposition of penalties on an intermediary for comments left by Internet users.

As expressed in the Joint Statement: “We call on the Malaysian government to end and refrain from the continued use of intimidating measures to threaten and punish the media and silence opinions.”

CLD joins ARTICLE 19, the Centre for Independent Journalism, Gerakan Media Merdeka, the International Federation of Journalists, the National Union of Journalists Peninsula Malaysia and Reporters without Borders in the statement, which is available in full here.

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