Malaysia: a worrying year for freedom of expression

In the first half of 2017, the rights to freedom of opinion, expression and information both on- and offline continued to be curtailed in Malaysia.

In April 2017, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, speaking at the WAN-IFRA 16th Asian Media Awards, stated that “free speech is thriving in Malaysia”, and appeared to lay blame on “foreign activists” for creating the “perception” of crackdowns on free speech in the country. However, much of the criticism of Malaysia’s violations of freedom of expression are based on concerns raised by civil society organisations, independent journalists and other members of the public at the national level. ARTICLE 19 has highlighted these concerns, as arrests and incidences of harassment against human rights defenders, journalists and Internet users continue.

This analysis reviews the situation as of the end of June 2017, reiterating ARTICLE 19’s recommendations for the government to address the situation in three priority areas: (i) human rights defenders, (ii) digital rights, and (iii) media freedom.

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