MALAYSIA: Peaceful Assembly Bill serious regression of the right to peaceful assembly

AHRC, December 2, 2011

The Malaysian government rushed through the Peaceful Assembly Bill at the Dewan Rakyat (House of Representatives, the lower house) on 29 November 2011. Instead of providing safeguards to the right to peaceful assembly, the bill poses harsher restrictions on the organization and participation of peaceful assembly than existing laws of Malaysia. In particular, the bill prohibits street protests, which is defined in the bill as “open air assembly which begins with a meeting at a specified place and consists of walking in a mass march or rally for the purpose of objecting to or advancing a particular cause or causes.” The right to peaceful protest is a key component of the right to peaceful assembly, as street protest is a form of assembly in procession. The prohibition of street protests will seriously violate the right to peaceful assembly and infringe the freedom of expression of the people in Malaysia.

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