Freedom of expression in M'sia at all-time low: Suaram

KUALA LUMPUR: Freedom of expression remains at an "all-time low" with broader legal restrictions on public speech and expression, according to Suara Rakyat Malaysia's (Suaram) Human Rights 2017 Report.

According to the report, restrictions on freedom of expression saw a rise in prosecutions under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA).

Based on news reports, Suaram said there has been a total of 269 cases investigated under this law from January to September this year.

It was reported that 146 cases were investigated under Section 233, which prohibits the use of network facilities or services to transmit any offensive messages that could upset another person.

"With the application of the Sedition Act relegated to the back seat by the authorities, arrests, detentions and prosecutions made in relation to freedom of expression have largely fallen under the CMA and other laws," the report said.

Suaram said the CMA continues to plague internet users with more than 146 known cases under investigation and 44 documented cases of investigations or arrests for online comments on social media.

The report also revealed that detention without trial remained a prevalent concern throughout this year with indications that security laws were being used arbitrarily to detain individuals without trial.

"From the replies in Parliament, we learnt that more than 989 individuals have been arrested and detained under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) since its inception in April 2012.

"More shocking is the revelation that more than 159 minors have been detained under security provisions; there are currently 142 minors detained under the Prevention of Crime Act and 17 have been detained under Sosma," Suaram said.