3 October 1997


Canadian journalist deprived of passport pending an appeal of conviction for contempt of court

Incident details

Murray Hiebert


legal action

(RSF/IFEX) - On 3 October 1997, Murray Hiebert, a Canadian
correspondent for the Hong Kong-based "Far Eastern Economic
Review", had his request for the return of his passport refused
pending an appeal of his conviction for contempt of court.

**Updates IFEX alert dated 5 September 1997**

Since being found guilty on 30 May, Hiebert has been free;
however, he had to surrender his passport to the authorities and
request it each time he travelled out of the country.

Background Information

According to an alert originated by the Canadian Committee to
Protect Journalists (CCPJ), Hiebert was found guilty on 30 May,
and later sentenced on 4 September 1997 to three months in jail
because of a 23 January story he had written which examined
details of a civil suit brought by Datin Chandra Sri Ram, the
wife of Appeals Court Judge Sri Ram Gopal. The article also
examined an apparent growth in litigation in Malaysia, noting
that the suit by Chandra appeared to move through the judicial
system with unusual speed. Chandra consequently brought a suit
against Hiebert, alleging contempt of the Malaysian judicial
system (see IFEX alert). RSF notes that this is the first time in
Malaysia since 1949 that a journalist has been sentenced to a
jail term for contempt of court.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to authorities:

  • expressing concern about the decision to deny Murray Hiebert his
  • reminding them that freedom of expression is guaranteed by
    Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of the
    United Nations
  • therefore requesting that all possible steps be immediately
    taken to guarantee the free flow of information in Malaysia

    Appeals To

    Dato' Seri Dr Mahatir bin Mohamad
    Prime Minister
    Jalan Dato' Onn Malaysia
    50502 Kuala Lumpur
    Fax: 603 238 3691/3784 or 298 4172
    e-mail marsineh@smpke.jpm.my

    Copies to:

    Datuk Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
    Minister of Foreign Affairs
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    Wisma Putra
    Jalan Wisma Putra
    50602 Kuala Lumpur
    Fax: +603 242 4551

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

  • Source

    Reporters Without Borders
    47, rue Vivienne
    75002 Paris, France
    rsf (@) rsf.org

    Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51

    IFEX members working in this country 1

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