Hendry, a staff member of the human rights group Pusat KOMAS, was charged under the act for organizing a private screening of the award-winning documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka,” on July 3, 2013, in Kuala Lumpur. If convicted, she faces up to three years in prison and a fine of up to RM30,000 (US$7,000).
“Prosecuting someone for the private showing of an award-winning film shows how determined Malaysian authorities are to stomp on the right to free expression,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The government should call off its intensifying assault on free expression and promptly amend the Film Censorship Act.”
Section 6 of Malaysia’s Film Censorship Act, under which Hendry is being prosecuted, prohibits the “circulation, distribution, display, production, sale, hire” or “possession” of any film, whether imported or domestically produced, without first obtaining approval from the government-appointed Board of Censors. The law defines “film” very broadly – and could potentially be applied to home videos or videos taken on a smartphone. Should the Federal Court, Malaysia’s highest, rule against Hendry, her case will proceed to trial.