Resolution adopted without a vote by the Inter-Parliamentary Council
at its 166th session (Amman, 6 May 2000)

The Inter-Parliamentary Council,

Referring to the outline of the case of Mr. Anwar Ibrahim, a member of the House of Representatives of Malaysia, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/166/16(c)­R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 165th session (October 1999),

Taking account of the information supplied by the Malaysian delegation to the 103rd Conference of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (April/May 2000),

Taking account also of communications from the source dated 21 January and 19 and 29 April 2000,

Recalling the following information on file:

  • Former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was arrested on 20 September 1998; at his first court appearance after nine days of incommunicado detention, he showed visible signs of assault which Prime Minister Mahathir found could have been “self-inflicted”; in January 1999, Inspector General of Police Abdul Rahim Noor resigned, assuming responsibility for Anwar Ibrahim's injuries but later claiming that he had been “provoked” into assaulting him; Anwar Ibrahim testified to the Royal Commission of Inquiry that he had been severely beaten around the neck, face and head while blindfolded and handcuffed; the Commission recommended that charges of attempting to cause grievous hurt be brought against Abdul Rahim Noor;
  • On 14 April 1999, Anwar Ibrahim was found guilty of corrupt practices (abuse of powers) and sentenced to six years' imprisonment;
  • In July 1999, a second trial was opened against Anwar Ibrahim, who, together with Sukma Darmawan, now faces a charge of sodomy; Mr. Sukma Darmawan was arrested on 6 September 1998 and detained incommunicado for 13 days before his appearance in court on 19 September 1998, when he pleaded guilty to charges of having let Anwar Ibrahim sodomise him and was sentenced to six months' imprisonment; he appealed against his conviction on the ground that his guilty plea had been coerced through severe police ill-treatment; however, without ordering an independent investigation, the judge accepted the police's denial of any abuse and ruled that the confession had been made voluntarily in that there had been no inducement, threat or promise by the police;
  • On 10 September 1999, the judge in the sodomy trial ordered Anwar Ibrahim's admission to hospital, as lead defence counsel Karpal Singh had reported that an excessive level of arsenic had been discovered in Anwar Ibrahim's urine; while Kuala Lumpur University Hospital (HUKM) concluded in its expert opinion that Anwar Ibrahim did not show classical clinical signs of acute or chronic arsenic poisoning, it stated that Anwar Ibrahim had developed “a number of medical problems and recommended that HUKM […] continue to assess and follow up on the patient's health status ...”,

Considering that, on 14 January 2000, Karpal Singh was charged with sedition for stating the following on 10 September 1999 in court regarding Anwar Ibrahim's alleged arsenic poisoning: “It could well be that someone out there wants to get rid of him […] even to the extent of murder. I suspect that people in high places are responsible for the situation”; he was released on bail and is awaiting trial, which is due to begin on 18 July 2000; considering that, according to the sources, these charges are unprecedented since this is the first time in Malaysia that a lawyer is charged with an offence for words spoken in court in the course of his duty as a lawyer; recalling in this connection its previous concern regarding infringements of the rights of the defence,

Considering that on 14 March 2000, Abdul Rahim Noor was sentenced to two months' imprisonment and released on bail, pending his appeal against the sentence; he had pleaded not guilty to the original charge but changed his plea to guilty when the prosecution reduced the charge against him to that of “causing hurt”; noting that, according to the Malaysian delegation, the charge was amended as the injuries sustained by Mr. Ibrahim did not correspond to the relevant definition in the Penal Code,

Considering further that on 29 April 2000 the appeal court rejected Anwar Ibrahim's appeal against the judgment in the “corruption” case, ruling that there “was no doubt whatsoever” that Anwar Ibrahim abused his official powers by ordering police in 1997 to intimidate two people into withdrawing sexual allegations against him,

Recalling further the concern expressed in its previous resolution (October 1999) regarding the concurring allegations of coerced witness statements, the presumption of guilt on the part of high officials, the conduct of the first trial, in particular the amendment to the initial charges admitted by the judge, the ill-treatment of Anwar Ibrahim in detention and his poor state of health,

  1. Thanks the Malaysian delegation for the information it provided;
  2. Can but reiterate its fear, in view of the evidence on file, that the motives for Anwar Ibrahim's prosecution were not of a legal nature and that the case was built on a presumption of guilt;
  3. Notes again that, in this case, attempting to obtain a denial of allegations defaming a person was considered a criminal offence and punished with six years' imprisonment, a sentence which it considers grossly disproportionate; reiterates its belief that Mr. Ibrahim should instead be entitled to redress for prejudice to reputation caused by such groundless accusations;
  4. Remains deeply disturbed at the concordant allegations of witnesses being forced to make statements against Anwar Ibrahim; emphatically recalls that under international human rights standards allegations of coerced testimony must be promptly and independently investigated, and that they prohibit the use of evidence elicited under duress; is consequently deeply concerned at the admission as evidence of Sukma Darmawan's previous “confession” which, he affirmed, was obtained under duress;
  5. Reaffirms that the ill-treatment inflicted on Mr. Ibrahim while he was in police custody lends credence to the allegations of coercion of witnesses' statements;
  6. Fails to understand, in the light of the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry, why the prosecution amended the charge brought against Abdul Rahim Noor, and would appreciate clarification in this respect;
  7. Is alarmed at the sedition charges brought against Anwar Ibrahim's lead defence counsel for a statement he made in court, particularly in view of its previous concern regarding interference by the court with the rights of the defence, and once more recalls that these rights are an essential ingredient of a fair trial;
  8. Remains concerned at the conclusions of Kuala Lumpur University Hospital regarding Anwar Ibrahim's state of health, which indicate that it has considerably worsened in detention, and calls again on the authorities to release him on bail;
  9. Reiterates its wish to receive a copy of the new indictment issued against Anwar Ibrahim involving sodomy charges;
  10. Requests the Secretary General to communicate this decision to the appropriate Malaysian authorities with an invitation to provide the desired information;
  11. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (October 2000).

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