10 February 2022
Responding to graphic designer and activist Fahmi Reza being charged under the Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions court today, Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, Executive Director of Amnesty International Malaysia said:
“By charging Fahmi Reza for his political satire under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA), the government violates his constitutionally guaranteed and fundamental right to freedom of expression while attempting to silence other dissenting voices through fear.
It might be Fahmi who is facing the law for his illustrations and designs that often critique public figures and highlight human rights violations, but the chilling effects of today’s charge over his February 2021 post on a government minister will be far reaching for all speech deemed unacceptable by people in positions of power.
Section 233, which criminalises online content that is ‘obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character,’ is excessively vague, prone to abuse and often arbitrarily applied. It must be repealed. We must also not accept the routine manner in which the law is used to criminalise political speech and subject government critics to repeated police investigations and criminal charges.
Laws must not be used to repress peaceful dissent and critique. Art and satire are necessary to live in an open and fair society. We call on authorities to immediately drop all charges against Fahmi Reza.”
On 10 February, graphic designer and activist Fahmi Reza was charged in the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) for a February 2021 post on Twitter featuring a government minister. If found guilty, he faces a fine up to RM50,000, jailed up to a year, or both. He was granted bail of RM5,000 with one surety and the court fixed March 30 for mention of the case.