PETALING JAYA: The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) condemned the KL High Court’s conviction of Karpal Singh on sedition charges, saying it was inconsistent with international law.
ICJ’s spokesperson, Emerlynne Gil, in a statement today, said Karpal’s conviction yesterday sent a message that lawyers in Malaysia are not free to express their opinion on legal issues.
“The decision shows the government’s lack of respect for the principles of free expression and is inconsistent with international law,” said Gil, ICJ’s International Legal Advisor on Southeast Asia.
She said Karpal, who is also a member of parliament, has every right to express his opinion as a lawyer and as someone exercising his right to free expression.
She added that the United Nation’s basic principles on the role of lawyers allows them to voice their opinions like any other ordinary citizen.
“He has every right to do that, as a lawyer and has also acted in fulfillment of a core function of the legal profession, which is to contribute to public discourse on matters of law,” said Gil.
“Lawyers have the right to take part in public discussions on matters concerning the law, administration of justice and promotion and protection of human rights without fear of suffering professional restrictions or repercussions.”
On Feb 6, 2009, Karpal was alleged to have said that Sultan Azlan Shah’s decision to remove the then state menteri besar Nizar Jamaluddin from his post, could be argued in the court of law.
The High Court yesterday, after convicting Karpal on sedition charges, fixed March 7 to hear his plea of mitigation and sentencing.
Under section 4(1) of the 1948 Sedition Act, Karpal Singh faces a fine of up to RM 5,000 and/or imprisonment of up to three years.
Under the Federal Constitution, an elected representative is disqualified from office if he or she is fined more than RM 2,000 or jailed for a term exceeding one year.