A Good Day for Freedom of Expression

PUTRAJAYA—Sisters in Islam (SIS) lauds today’s judgement by the Court of Appeal that the Minister of Home Affair’s decision to ban a SIS publication was an “outrageous defiance of logic”.

It represents a good day for freedom of expression.

This judgement upholds a High Court decision that the Minister’s banning order was “irrational, unreasonable and disproportionate”.  The SIS book, Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism, had been in circulation for two years prior to its banning in July 2008.

This Court of Appeal judgement is significant because:

Firstly, it affirms a judicial trend to interpret generously Article 10 which guarantees freedom of expression. Any limitations allowed under the law must be read restrictively, and these restrictions must also be reasonable.

Secondly, it reinforces the court’s jurisdiction in reviewing ministerial decisions on issues of fundamental liberties. As Justice Wahab Patail stated, “It is the duty of the court to interfere if a decision maker has misunderstood the law, or has acted unfairly or unjustly thereby misdirecting himself in law, or taken into consideration irrelevant facts, or not taken into account relevant facts.”

He added the court should exercise its supervisory jurisdiction in reviewing administrative decisions to ascertain whether there has been an abuse or misuse of administrative discretion, and whether it was fairly and justly exercised.

Thirdly, this judgement once again reveals that such wide discretionary powers under the Printing Presses and Publications Act (PPPA) 1984 granted to the Minister of Home Affairs renders it open to abuse repeatedly and violates fundamental liberties.

We urge the government to respond to longstanding demands for the repeal of the PPPA 1984.


Sisters in Islam
27 July 2012

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