Centre for International Law (National University of Singapore) – Document Database

23 February 2020

Annotation 2020-02-23 085202

https://cil.nus.edu.sg/database-cil/


Global Launch of the "World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 2020" – 11 March 2020

14 February 2020

The World Justice Project Rule of Law Index® measures how the rule of law is experienced and perceived by the general public in 126 countries and jurisdictions worldwide based on more than 120,000 household and 3,800 expert surveys. Featuring primary data, the WJP Rule of Law Index measures countries’ rule of law performance across eight factors: Constraints on Government Powers, Absence of Corruption, Open Government, Fundamental Rights, Order and Security, Regulatory Enforcement, Civil Justice, and Criminal Justice.

The WJP Rule of Law Index 2020 – to be launched on 11 March 2020

Subscribe to World Justice Project’s newsletter for the formal invitation to the launch livestream for the Rule of Law Index 2020 @ https://worldjusticeproject.org/our-work/engagement/events/global-launch-wjp-rule-law-index-2020


The WJP Rule of Law Index 2019

https://worldjusticeproject.org/sites/default/files/documents/ROLI-2019-Reduced.pdf

Report Highlights

The new WJP Rule of Law Index scores show that more countries declined than improved in overall rule of law performance for the second year in a row, continuing a negative slide toward weaker rule of law around the world.

In a sign suggesting rising authoritarianism, the factor score for “Constraints on Government Powers” declined in more countries than any other factor worldwide over the last year (61 countries declined, 23 stayed the same, 29 improved). This factor measures the extent to which, in practice, those who govern are bound by governmental and non-governmental checks such as an independent judiciary, a free press, the ability of legislatures to apply oversight, and more. Over the past four years, Poland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia have lost the most ground in this dimension of the rule of law.

The second largest decline over last year was seen in the area of “Criminal Justice,” followed by “Open Government” and “Fundamental Rights.” On a positive note, more countries improved in “Absence of Corruption” than declined for the second year in a row.

The top three overall performers in the 2019 WJP Rule of Law Index were Denmark (1), Norway (2), and Finland (3); the bottom three were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (124), Cambodia (125), and Venezuela (126). 

Regional Highlights

Countries leading their regions in overall rule of law scores included: Nepal (South Asia), Georgia (Eastern Europe and Central Asia); Namibia (Sub-Saharan Africa); Uruguay (Latin America and the Caribbean); United Arab Emirates (Middle East and North Africa); New Zealand (East Asia and Pacific), and Denmark (Western Europe and North America, defined as EU + EFTA + North America).


Varieties of Democracy (V-Dem) Annual Democracy Report 2019

22 January 2020

The V-Dem Democracy Report 2019 is online! Get it here – https://www.v-dem.net/media/filer_public/99/de/99dedd73-f8bc-484c-8b91-44ba601b6e6b/v-dem_democracy_report_2019.pdf

Main findings: 

The trend of autocratization continues, and almost one-third of the world’s population lives in countries undergoing autocratization – a substantial decline of democracy.

24 countries are now severely affected by what is established as a “third wave of autocratization”. These countries include Brazil, India, the United States, as well as several Eastern European countries.

A majority of countries in the world remains democratic. 

The first ever model forecasting autocratization identifies the top-10 most at-risk countries: Philippines, Fiji, Mali, Hungary, Guatemala, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Tanzania. This is an invitation for action by the policy and practitioner communities.


Human Rights Day – 10 December 2019

10 December 2019

Today is Human Rights Day. It is a day for all States and organisations to adopt, observe and fulfil the United Nations General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The formal inception of Human Rights Day dates from 1950. This year the emphasis is on Rights Day is on Youths. The world’s youth population is at an all-time high, at 1.8 billion people aged 15 to 29, (world population is 7.46 billion). The Global Youth Development Index shows many countries are experiencing a “youth bulge” with adolescents and young adults making up a third of the population. This offers hope of a “demographic dividend” as young people contribute towards economic growth and well-being. (https://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/state-worlds-youth-population-new-index-underscores-urgent-need-invest-young)

This year’s Human Rights Day is all about the power of youth. Here are some of our young inspirations standing up for human rights each day. Supporting them and empowering youths, join us:- 

Repost – from the United Nations’ Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights


International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – 25 November 2019

25 November 2019

Some other resources on this issue:

http://interactive.unwomen.org/multimedia/infostory/justicenow/en/index.html

https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2019/11/compilation-ways-you-can-stand-against-rape-culture

https://trello.com/b/PpTdZvU4/16-days-of-activism (comprehensive social media pack)


Parliamentarians call for the immediate release of Mu Sochua and an end to Cambodia’s relentless assault on dissent

7 November 2019

JAKARTA, 7 November 2019 – Regional lawmakers called for the immediate and unconditional release of Mu Sochua, Vice-President of Cambodia’s main opposition party, following her detention by Malaysian authorities at Kuala Lumpur airport, and called for all ASEAN countries to respect the fundamental freedoms of Cambodian citizens. 

“Sochua should be immediately released from detention and allowed to continue her peaceful activities. The decision to detain her is a complete disregard for ASEAN’s stated commitment to democracy and human rights. We all know that any attempts to block Cambodian opposition members from returning to their countries is solely based on political grounds and is a blatant attempt to silence their voices,” said Kasit Piromya, former Thailand MP and Board Member of ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR).

The Malaysian authorities should allow access to independent monitors to visit her and the two Cambodian youth opposition activists who have been detained at the airport for the past three days and clarify under which law the three of them are currently detained, said APHR. 

In preparation for his return to Cambodia, Sam Rainsy, Cambodia’s opposition leader, is also expected to be refused entry into Thailand when he tries to board a plane in Paris this evening. 

“It is outrageous that Malaysia and other ASEAN countries are doing the dirty bidding of their counterparts fearful of legitimate political opposition. They should not be following the orders of Hun Sen’s repressive regime and violating Cambodian citizens’ fundamental rights on his behalf,” said Kasit Piromya.

Over the past few months, Hun Sen’s crackdown on opposition members and activists has intensified ever since exiled leaders of the CNRP who have been facing charges for allegedly “plotting” and “inciting to commit a felony” vowed to return to Cambodia on 9 November, Cambodia’s Independence Day.  Ahead of their planned return, the authorities announced that it had sent arrest warrants for CNRP co-founder Sam Rainsy to all neighboring countries, deployed troops along the Cambodian-Thailand border, and threatened to use armed forces to ‘suppress’ the opposition, raising fears of possible violence. 

The authorities also stated that civil aviation authorities would face “serious consequences” if commercial airlines act as “accomplices to a coup attempt” and in a clear violation of their rights, admitted to surveilling the phones of opposition members, alleging their capacity to find the exact time and location of their return.

Meanwhile, to supposedly ‘protect their sovereignty,’ the Cambodian authorities have been filing charges and arresting anyone who shows support both online and offline for the CNRP leaders’ return. More than 50 opposition members have been detained and arrested in recent weeks. Many were arrested without a warrant and without being informed of the reason for their arrest, but have good reason to believe that their arrests were merely due to their political affiliation. 

By using all means to prevent the return of the political opposition to Cambodia and detaining all potential threats to his power, Hun Sen once again shows how Cambodia has become a one-man authoritarian regime that totally disregards democracy. 

“Hun Sen is so afraid of losing power that he has waged an unrelenting and systematic attack on the opposition,” said Walden Bello, former Philippine MP and APHR Board Member. “The large-scale crackdown on dissent and refusal to let opposition leaders return to their country should be a wake-up call to the international community that Cambodia is in a democratic crisis.”

The Cambodian authorities have been systematically and repeatedly violating their obligations to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. APHR reminds Cambodia that it is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which under Articles 19 and 25 guarantees the right to freedom of expression and to participate in public affairs.  

The authorities’ systematic crackdown on critical voices contributes to instilling a climate of fear among the public, forcing many political and human rights activists to self-censor or hide from the authorities. APHR called on the international community to take all available measures to ensure Cambodia upholds its commitments to human rights and end its crackdown on legitimate political opposition and human rights activists. “Without a strong opposition or human rights defenders able to independently and freely comment on Hun Sen’s rule and policies, there is nobody providing checks and balances on the executive.  No one should fool themselves: Cambodia is now nothing but a fully-fledged dictatorship – nothing in the current functioning of the country remains democratic,” said Charles Santiago, Malaysian MP and APHR Chair.

“The international community, including Cambodia’s ASEAN neighbors, have a responsibility to ensure opposition voices in Cambodia are free to exercise their human rights without fear of reprisals.”

Background:

Following significant gains in commune-level elections by the CNRP in 2017, Cambodian authorities detained CNRP President Kem Sokha on 3 September 2017 on trumped-up charges and several CNRP members fled the country in fear of arrests. To this day, Kem Sokha remains under house arrest. In November 2017, a Supreme Court ruling dissolved the CNRP for allegedly attempting to overthrow the government, and banned 118 of its members from politics for five years. In July 2018, Cambodia hold widely discredited elections in which the CNRP was not allowed to compete. As a consequence, Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) currently holds all 125 of the seats in Parliament.


ABOLISH DETENTION WITHOUT TRIAL RESPECT RIGHT TO FAIR TRIAL

28 October 2019

Joint Media Statement – 27/10/2019

On the occasion of October 27, the anniversary of Operation Lallang in 1987, when about 106 persons were arrested and detained under a draconian Detention Without Trial law, we the 16 undersigned organisations and groups call on Malaysia to abolish all existing Detention Without Trial laws, including the Prevention of Crimes Act 1949 (POCA), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015(POTA) and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985.

In the 1987 Operation Lallang, about 106 persons, including human rights defenders, women activist, politicians, worker rights activist, religious groups and others were arrested and detained without trial under the Detention Without Trial law, the Internal Security Act 1960.

The Detention without Trial law, then and now, does not allow its victims to challenge the alleged reasons for which they have been detained and/or restricted in court – no judicial review.

The police arrest and the Minister orders the Detention/Restrictions, whereby now in place of the Minister, for POCA and POTA, this power is given to the Prevention of Crime Board  and Prevention of Terrorism Board respectively.

Detention Orders could be made indefinitely, two years at a time. Likewise Restriction Orders.

Restriction Orders could including being restricted to a particular village/town/district, not being able to leave place of residence after certain time and not being able to access the internet. If there is a breach of any of the restrictions, it is a crime punishable by law.

Some DWT laws repealed but Detention Without Trial came back stronger

Malaysia, under the previous Barisan Nasional government, repealed the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) and the Emergency (Public Order And Prevention. Of Crime) Ordinance 1969, but thereafter brought in Detention Without Trial by amendment into POCA, and enacted a new DWT law being the POTA.

POCA, which was previously a law restricted to triad gangster groups that commit violent crimes, have now had its scope broadened. It now can be used against any persons who is suspected of committing any crime in the Pernal Code. POCA’s First Schedule, item 2 today reads as follows, ‘2. Persons who belong to or consort with any group, body, gang or association of two or more persons who associate for purposes which include the commission of offences under the Penal Code.’ 

POCA can also be used against those suspected in terrorism activities, human trafficking, smuggling of persons and even drug trafficking, amongst others.

Torture of DWT victims

Under these Detention Without Trial laws, even though there is really no necessity for any confessions or evidence gathering, as there will be no trial anyway, and there is no way to challenge in court the reasons for detention, reports of torture has been alleged by victims, usually human rights or political activists who are brave to do so, as many an ordinary detainee is just too fearful of further repercussions or retaliation to speak up.

Irene Xavier, social activist, arrested on 31 Oct 1987 – “I shall always remember how on the ninth day of my detention, I was beaten with a stick. It was the most humiliating experience in my life. I was forced to stand there while an inspector of the Special Branch beat me with a stick – to remind me that they were not going to treat women more leniently. I was truly in a state of shock.”

Chow Chee Keong, social activist, arrested on 28 Oct 1987 – An interrogator tried to burn his genitals with a burning rolled-up piece of newspaper. They pulled his hair, stepped hard on his fingers and toes with their booted feet and whacked his back with rolled-up bundles of newspapers.

Abdul Rahman Hamzah, a former Sarawak State Assemblyman and political secretary to the former Sarawak Chief Minister, arrested on 20 Sept 1988 – They threw ashtrays at him and beat and poked at him with a broom. He had to do endless strenuous exercises like duck-walking, leap-frogging, crawling on all fours and “swimming” on the floor. All these were aimed at destroying his self-esteem and reducing him to a helpless wreck. If he stopped from exhaustion, they kicked him. They put a large tin over his head and hit it hard with a stick. The sound within was deafening and he suffered cuts and bruises all over his head and face. He was also given the notorious “wet treatment”. They pushed his face into a filthy squat-type toilet and flushed it repeatedly.

The incidence of torture of Detention Without Trial victims may be difficult to prove, but the fact that it exist is probable, taking also the consideration of the number of death in police custody and/or death in detention centers.

The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) after inquiring into the case of Syed Mohd Azlan Syed Mohamed Nur, who died in police custody, found that police officers had intentionally used violence resulting in the death. They recommended action be taken again these officers for murder.

Recently, it was reported that 10 prison warders have been arrested and remanded in connection with the death of a prisoner, who was found dead in his cell, with blunt force trauma wounds to his head and body.(Malay Mail, 23/10/2019).

Detention Without Trial But No Fair Trial Thereafter makes justifications used for Detention lame

The fact that one is detained without trial, does not mean they cannot be charged and tried in court. As an example, section 19G of POCA states, ‘The detention of any person under this Part shall be without prejudice to the taking of any criminal proceeding against that person, whether during or after the period of his detention.’

The fact that we do not hear of such trials and convictions, during or thereafter their detention without trial makes one question the validity of reasons used for their detentions without trial.

Violation of Human Rights – The Right to Fair Trial

Those detained under DWT laws are denied their right to a fair trial.

Article 10 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, ‘Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.’

Article 11(1) states, ‘Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.’

Article 9 states ‘No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.’

Victims of DWT laws are subjected to arbitrary administrative detention, and even arbitrary administrative restrictions.

THEREFORE, we

–          Call for the Immediate repeal of all Detention Without Trial Laws, and urge that all persons be accorded the right to a fair trial;

–          Call for the immediate and unconditional release of all victims of Detention Without Trial; and

–          Call for Malaysia to respect human rights.

Charles Hector

For and on behalf of the 16 groups listed below

ALIRAN

EMPOWER Malaysia

Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Research Center

MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)

Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility

MARUAH, Singapore

Marvi Rural Development Organization (MRDO), Pakistan

Odhikar, Bangladesh

Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & KL (PRIHATIN)

Radanar Ayar Association, Myanmar

Sahabat Rakyat 人民之友 மக்கள் தோழர்கள்

SUARAM

Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy

WH4C (Workers Hub For Change)

Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM)

Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity  (PACTI)