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Resolution adopted unanimously by the Governing Council
at its 173rd session (Geneva, 3 October 2003)

The Governing 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 at the time of the submission of the complaint, as contained in the report of the Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians (CL/173/11(b)-R.1), and to the resolution adopted at its 171st session (September 2002),

Taking account of the report provided by the Malaysian Parliament on 27 September 2003 and of communications from the sources dated 25 and 27 September 2003,

Recalling that, having been dismissed from his post as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Mr. Anwar Ibrahim was arrested on 20 September 1998, initially under the Internal Security Act without any charge, and subsequently prosecuted on charges of abuse of power and sodomy; he was found guilty on both counts and sentenced, in April 1999 and August 2000, respectively, to a total term of 15 years' imprisonment, which he is currently serving; on 10 July 2002, the Federal Court dismissed at final instance Mr. Anwar Ibrahim's appeal against the abuse of power charges; considering that in August 2002 Mr. Ibrahim lodged an application with the Federal Court to review its own decision whereby it upheld his conviction and sentence in this case; the hearing of the application, originally set for 18 March 2003, was adjourned owing to a petition of the Attorney General for the application to be heard by a five-member instead of three-member panel; that request has reportedly been approved by the Chief Justice, but no date has so far been set for a hearing,

Considering that the appeal hearing in the sodomy case started on 24 March 2003 and ended on 18 April 2003 when the Appeal Court rejected the appeal; Anwar Ibrahim filed an appeal with the Federal Court which is pending; considering the serious concerns widely voiced about the credibility of the main witness in the sodomy case, Mr. Azizan Abu Bakar, corroborated by the lack of any medical evidence, crucial in such cases,

Considering that, in their report of 27 September 2003, the authorities emphasise that the cases against Anwar Ibrahim were heard by the most senior judges and affirm generally that the Malaysian judiciary upholds the rule of law, is independent, acts impartially at all times and makes all decisions in accordance with the law without fear or favour; the report states that the Malaysian Government "asserts, maintains and reiterates" that these guarantees, including the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, were accorded to Mr. Anwar Ibrahim at all material times and that his trials were "in accordance with acceptable legal standards and based on reception of admissible evidence",

Recalling that at the time of Mr. Ibrahim's arrest, when he had not yet been charged, the Prime Minister and other senior government officials publicly stated that he was guilty of the allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of power made against him; recalling further the serious concerns it has consistently expressed regarding observance of fair trial guarantees in the proceedings against Anwar Ibrahim, particularly with respect to his right to defend himself; referring in this context once again particularly to the disallowing of evidence to the effect that the prosecution attempted to fabricate evidence against Anwar Ibrahim, and to the sentencing of defence counsel Zainur Zakaria on account of his attempt to present such evidence,

Considering that Mr. Anwar Ibrahim is seeking bail pending his appeal against the sodomy conviction; the bail petition has not yet been heard; in August 2003, the judges reportedly said that a decision would be delivered soon,

Recalling that Mr. Anwar Ibrahim has not been allowed to go abroad for the spinal surgery recommended by his surgeon and that the Government has not taken account of the recommendation made by the National Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) which, on 31 May 2001, on the basis of Sections 37, 43 and 42 of the Prison Act 1995, stated publicly that Anwar Ibrahim should be allowed to undergo medical treatment abroad, a position which SUHAKAM confirmed in a communication of 13 January 2003 addressed to the Committee; also recalling that the parliamentary authorities have repeatedly forwarded comments, most recently in their report of 27 September 2003 stating that the Government's refusal to allow Mr. Ibrahim to undergo medical treatment abroad was in conformity with the Malaysian Prison Act 1952 and relevant international norms, in particular the United Nations Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners; considering in this respect that, in their report of 27 September 2003, the authorities add that Mr. Ibrahim is receiving preferential treatment since he: (a) receives more family visits than he is entitled to; (b) receives more legal visits than any other prisoner; (c) has the privilege of exclusive use of a large air-conditioned gymnasium suitably equipped for the prescribed physiotherapy; (d) is visited regularly by specialist doctors from Kuala Lumpur Hospital, is attended daily by the hospital assistant attached to the Prison Hospital and has been taken out of prison for routine medical treatment; (e) receives a special prescribed diet to ensure his good health; (f) receives a wide variety of periodicals and books through family visits; and (g) receives regular visits of prominent religious personnel; the authorities state that Anwar Ibrahim is receiving appropriate medical treatment and that his health has significantly improved with conservative treatment,

Considering that, according to the source, following increased lumbar pain, an application was made on 21 August 2003 for Mr. Ibrahim to be allowed a visit by the Malaysian neurosurgeon of his choice, Dr. Halili Rahmat; the application has remained unanswered to date,

Recalling that, after his arrest in September1998, Mr. Ibrahim was assaulted by the then Inspector General of Police, Rahim Noor, who beat him up; considering that the injuries Mr. Ibrahim sustained on that occasion may have contributed to the worsening of his back pain,

Recalling finally that it has repeatedly requested the parliamentary authorities to provide information on how the Malaysian Parliament, as a guardian of human rights, ensures the follow-up of the recommendations made by SUHAKAM and that, in their observations forwarded in August 2002, the parliamentary authorities undertook to provide these details,

  1. Thanks the parliamentary authorities for the comprehensive report; notes, however, that the information and observations provided contain no new elements dispelling its concerns, particularly regarding respect for the rights of the defence, and enabling it to change its position, namely that Mr. Anwar Ibrahim's prosecution and sentencing may well have been politically motivated;

  2. Trusts that the Federal Court will rule on Mr. Ibrahim's appeal in the sodomy case and review the abuse of power case with total independence and impartiality and in a manner fully respectful of the rights of the defence, which the Court itself considers to be "sacrosanct" and "a principle so fundamental to our system of justice";

  3. Calls on the competent authorities to grant Mr. Ibrahim bail, given in particular his state of health which obviously - since he now needs a wheelchair - has worsened in detention;

  4. Reaffirms that the recommendations of a national human rights commission carry special weight and should not be dismissed by the competent authorities; considers, in the light of the observations provided by the parliamentary authorities, that if the authorities are not under a legal obligation to grant permission for medical treatment abroad, there is also no legal provision preventing them from doing so;

  5. Calls therefore once again on the authorities, in particular the Malaysian Parliament as a guardian of human rights, to give full support to the clear recommendations of the National Human Rights Commission in order to obtain permission for Mr. Anwar to follow his personal choice of medical treatment abroad;

  6. Invites the parliamentary authorities once again to provide information on how in general the Malaysian Parliament, as a guardian of human rights, ensures follow-up of the recommendations made by SUHAKAM;

  7. Requests the Secretary General to convey this resolution to the competent Malaysian authorities and 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 to be held on the occasion of the 110th Assembly.

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