KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — A group of 14 civil society organisations today criticised Kangar police chief Wari Kiew for lodging a police report against Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy for defamation.
The group said Wari’s move is a clear sign by the authorities to intimidate human rights defenders who are merely assisting victims of alleged wrongful arrest and torture.
“We call on the Kangar Police Chief to withdraw his report and submit to an investigation by Suhakam to be cleared of any wrongdoing rather than use Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation (SLAPP) tactics against whistleblowers,” the group said in a joint statement.
The statement, prepared by Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and signed by Bersih 2.0, Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), Sisters in Islam and Pusat Komas among others said Wari’s action had breached Article 10 of the Federal Constitution which guarantees freedom of speech.
Earlier today, Wari lodged a police report against Sevan for defamation under Section 500 of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act for organising a press conference yesterday alleging the police had mistakenly arrested a father and son over a kidnapping report involving a 15-year-old.
Sevan brought Pukalanthee Rajoo and his son Linggeswaran to a press conference in which he police arrested the duo on September 21 and held them without bail and failed to provide reason for their arrest until the day after.
According to Bernama, on September 23, three suspects were remanded for alleged attempted kidnapping of a 15-year-old girl in Kampung Tok Kandang, Kangar in Perlis by the Kangar Magistrate’s Court.
The girl had claimed that she was nearly kidnapped by a group of men around 11am when she was alone in the compound of her home.
She said she was approached by three men who stopped in front of her house in a black Perodua Viva car.
The victim then ran to a neighbour’s house to get help, while the suspects fled. All three were arrested a few hours later and subsequently remanded for four days.
After their release on September 26, Wari said police did not find sufficient evidence to link them to the crime and the deputy public prosecutor office did not give further instructions on the case.