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Resolution adopted without a vote by the IPU Council
at its 170th session (Marrakech, 23 March 2002)*

The Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,

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/170/13.c(ii)-R.1), and to the relevant resolution adopted at its 169th session (September 2001),

Taking account of a note provided by the Malaysian delegation to the 107th Conference concerning Anwar Ibrahim's state of health and his right to medical treatment; also taking account of the documents provided by the Malaysian delegation to the 105th (April 2001) and 106th (September 2001) Conferences,

Recalling that, having been dismissed from his post as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mr. Anwar Ibrahim was arrested and prosecuted on charges of corruption and sodomy; he was found guilty on both counts and sentenced, in April 1999 and August 2000 respectively, to a total of 15 years' imprisonment; his appeal against the corruption charges having been rejected at second instance, it is now pending before the Federal Court; no date has as yet been set for hearing the appeal against the sodomy conviction and sentence,

Recalling also that after his arrest in September 1998, Mr. Anwar Ibrahim was assaulted by the then Inspector General of Police, Rahim Noor; following the findings and recommendations of a specially instituted Royal Commission, Rahim Noor was charged with causing grievous bodily harm, a charge carrying a maximum prison sentence of three and a half years; he pleaded guilty only after the charge was amended to the lesser offence of “causing hurt”; in March 2000, Rahim Noor was found guilty of that charge, fined US$ 530, sentenced to two months’ imprisonment and granted bail pending appeal; considering that his appeal was rejected on 1 May 2001, and that he served his sentence in Kajang Prison,

Recalling its concerns about the fairness of the trial proceedings brought against Anwar Ibrahim, in particular as regards the many concurrent allegations of extraction of witness statements under duress and the harassment of defence lawyers, in particular the bringing of sedition charges against Karpal Singh for having raised in court suspicion of arsenic poisoning of Anwar Ibrahim, and the sentencing of Zainur Zakaria for contempt of court for having refused to apologise to the court for submitting an affidavit alleging that the prosecutors attempted to fabricate evidence against Mr. Anwar Ibrahim; considering that, in the observations it submitted in April and September 2001, the Malaysian delegation stated with respect to Zainur Zakaria's conviction that "it was made on the basis of the facts and the law in Malaysia and was moved by the trial judge for his contemptuous behaviour in court"; as regards the charges against Karpal Singh, the delegation stated that "the investigation had proven that the statement is false and thus made in bad faith and without caution" and that "immunity of lawyers does not extend to the realm of criminal liability, especially so when the statements made by lawyers are seditious in nature",

Considering in this connection that, on 14 January 2002, the prosecution decided to withdraw the charges against Karpal Singh; considering also that in its ruling of 27 July 2001 on Mr. Zakaria’s appeal, the Federal Court quashed the conviction handed down and set aside the three-month sentence; recalling in this respect that the principal issue at the start of Anwar Ibrahim's trial on the corruption charges was the allegation by the defence that the Attorney General's Chambers had fabricated evidence against Anwar Ibrahim, implicating two senior prosecutors,

Recalling that Anwar Ibrahim has been hospitalised in the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (KLGH) since 24 November 2000 owing to a chronic spinal injury; that having examined Anwar Ibrahim on 13 March 2001, his surgeon, Dr. Thomas Hoogland, concluded that he required urgent and delicate spinal surgery which could not, in his view, be performed satisfactorily in Malaysia; he therefore recommended surgery abroad; the Malaysian Government rejected that request on the grounds that Mr. Ibrahim might elect not to return to Malaysia; Anwar Ibrahim, who refused to undergo surgery in Malaysia, was returned to prison on 10 May 2001; the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, after meeting Anwar Ibrahim, stated publicly on 31 May 2001 that he should be allowed to exercise his right to choose his preferred treatment, including treatment abroad; the Commission noted that the 1995 Prison Act allowed the prison authorities to release a prisoner on licence and that nothing legally prevented Anwar Ibrahim from being sent abroad for medical treatment,

Considering that the Malaysian delegation has submitted comprehensive information on the rules governing medical treatment in prison and their application in this case, from which it appears that Dr. Hoogland considered that it was "do-able" to carry out the surgery at Kuala Lumpur Hospital and tentatively scheduled it for 6 and 7 April 2001; the medical panel formed to treat Mr. Ibrahim agreed that Dr. Hoogland should perform the surgery and be allowed the required facilities, equipment and personnel; to date, however, Dr. Hoogland has not provided the list of the equipment needed for the surgery; moreover, adducing relevant jurisprudence and international human rights norms, the documents submitted to the Committee conclude that: (a) there is no infringement of Anwar Ibrahim's fundamental right to life if he is refused his choice of medical treatment, as long as adequate medical treatment is provided by the Government, which has been and remains the case; (b) there is no infringement of Anwar Ibrahim's right to personal liberty, as enshrined in Article 5 (1) of the Constitution, if he is refused permission for medical treatment abroad, because Article 5 does not confer on a citizen a fundamental right to leave the country as the Government may prevent certain persons, such as convicted prisoners, from doing so; (c) allowing Anwar Ibrahim to travel abroad for medical treatment would contravene Article 8 of the Constitution (right to equality) because such privilege is not accorded to other prisoners in the same position; and (d) with regard to weighing public against private interest, the Government's interference in this matter is legitimate and limited to the extent considered necessary to protect public interest; considering finally that, according to the document conveyed in September 2001, Anwar Ibrahim is in a stable condition and in good health, so that "there is no need for any undue concern about the state of his health or his back ailment",

  1. Thanks the Malaysian delegation for the comprehensive information submitted, in particular as regards Anwar Ibrahim's state of health;
  2. Acknowledges the arguments put forward by the delegation to the effect that the Government is fulfilling its obligations as regards the medical treatment afforded to Anwar Ibrahim; nevertheless believes that the recommendation of the Malaysian National Human Rights Commission carries special weight and should not be rejected;
  3. Calls therefore once more on the authorities, in particular on the Malaysian Parliament, as a guardian of human rights, to give full support to the clear recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission so as to allow Anwar Ibrahim to follow his personal choice of medical treatment abroad;
  4. Notes with satisfaction that the charges against Karpal Singh have been withdrawn;
  5. Considers that the Federal Court ruling in the Zainur Zakaria case has strong implications for the Anwar Ibrahim case as it lends further credence to the defence argument that the prosecution fabricated evidence against Anwar Ibrahim and, consequently, that his trials may well have been politically motivated;
  6. Calls once again on the authorities to release Anwar Ibrahim on bail pending the appeal proceedings under way against him;
  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the Malaysian authorities and to the sources;
  8. Requests the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians to continue examining this case and report to it at its next session (September 2002).

* The Malaysian delegation expressed reservations about the resolution adopted by the Council of the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

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