Support Human rights defenders ; Support The Charles Hector Legal Defence Fund

For highlighting information about human rights violations suffered by 31 Burmese Migrant Workers who were working at Asahi Kosei(M) Sdn Bhd, in Charles Hector Blog, HR Defender, Charles Hector, has been sued for RM10 million by the said company.

Briefing Paper in English | Japanese | Bahasa | Burmese | France | Chinese | Khmer

Sign petition or send latest AHRC Urgent Appeal or sign petition

ALIRAN has up a fund so that concerned groups and persons can contribute to the legal cost and expenses incurred by Charles Hector, Human Rights Defender, in the legal suit initiated by Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn Bhd. A lot of financial support is needed and your immediate assistance is needed.

Payments can be made by bank transfer to:

Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara
Bank account number:

107 246 109 510

Malayan Banking Berhad, Green Lane branch, Penang, Malaysia.

(If you are outside Malaysia, please include the “SWIFT” code for our bank: MBBEMYKL)

Please also email us at to indicate that it is a donation to Hector’s Legal Defence Fund.

Donations may also be made by cheque or bank draft made payable to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara. Mail your cheque/bank draft to us at 103, Medan Penaga, 11600 Jelutong, Penang, Malaysia, indicating clearly that it is a donation to the Hector Legal Defence Fund. []

Sunday, 29 May 2011

MALAYSIA: Stop legal action against Malaysian human rights defender for highlighting rights of migrant workers

Dear friends,

We wish to share with you the following joint statement from Human Rights Now and FORUM-ASIA.

Asian Human Rights Commission
Hong Kong

May 25, 2011

A Joint Statement from Human Rights Now and FORUM-ASIA forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission
MALAYSIA: Stop legal action against Malaysian human rights defender for highlighting rights of migrant workers
23 May 2011

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Human Rights Now express their great concern regarding the case of Mr. Charles Hector Fernandez, a Malaysian human rights lawyer, activist and blogger. We were informed that Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn. Bhd., subsidiary of Asahi Kosei Japan Co. Ltd., filed a defamation law suit against Mr. Hector for raising concerns on his blog about alleged human rights and labour rights violations of 31 Burmese migrant workers.

On 8 and 9 February 2011, Mr. Hector uploaded several posts to his blog on the grievances raised by the 31 Burmese workers. These workers were supplied by an outsourcing agent to work at Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn. Bhd., which is based in Malaysia. The workers alleged that their wages were unlawfully deducted and monetary penalties were made for absences from work. When the workers sought for compensation and fair treatment, they were threatened with termination of employment and possible deportation back to Burma. The workers are paid by an outsourcing agent, even though Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stated in 2010 that "employers ... should be responsible for their foreign workers. Outsourcing companies are only responsible for bringing them in. After that, employers must assume full responsibility."

Before posting about the workers' complaints on his blog, Mr. Hector sent an email to Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn. Bhd. for clarification and verification. The email explicitly requested that “if there is anything that you would like to correct, kindly revert to me immediately. An urgent response would be appreciated. Failing to hear from you, I would take it that the allegations of the workers are true”. The company did not respond and Mr. Hector went ahead and posted the complaints of the Burmese migrant workers on his blog, advocating for the protection of the 31 workers in general and those workers who were facing immediate deportation in particular.

On 14 February 2011, Mr. Hector received a letter from the law firm, T.S Teoh & Partners, on behalf of the Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn. Bhd. in which they accused him of having “committed defamation” for publishing "untrue allegations" about Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn. Bhd. The company demanded Mr. Hector to pay 10 million Malaysian ringgit (3,309,600 USD) within seven days, to immediately withdraw the posts and to write an apology which should be published on his blog within 24 hours, and appear in all major English newspapers to be circulated nationwide within three days.

A week later, on 21 February 2011, Mr. Hector received an ex-parte court order obtained by Asahi Kosei’s lawyers, requesting Mr. Hector to remove all the said blog posts immediately and to stop from making further public statements on his blog or other media about the legal action being taken against him and the plight of Burmese migrant workers.

On 11 April 2011, the court affirmed, after three hearings, a previous narrow order which restricted Charles Hector from communicating through his blog and Twitter account on the case of the 31 Burmese migrant workers until the end of the trial. The next hearing is scheduled on 25 May 2011 and the trial is set for 28 and 29 June 2011.

We are gravely concerned with the response of Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn. Bhd. to file a defamation suit against Charles Hector instead of replying to his email to clarify the matter and investigating the allegations of the workers.

On 12 March 2011, the Malaysian Bar unanimously approved a motion in support of Mr. Hector. In their motion, the Bar had emphasized: "public interest also places an obligation on any person that knows of any human rights violations to not just stand by but to take the necessary steps to see that such violations end, and to ensure that the victims do get justice. This principle is also recognized, and is also evident in many laws in Malaysia, including the Whistle Blowers Protection Act 2010, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, and the Criminal Procedure Code."

We believe that as a human rights defender, Mr. Charles Hector acted on behalf of the workers who are not familiar with their rights in Malaysia and helped them in lodging a complaint with SUHAKAM, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, which has sent their recommendations to the Labour Department about the case.

The defamation charges and the lawsuit filed against Charles Hector hinder him in his work as a human rights defender, advocating the rights of the 31 Burmese migrant workers. The legal action against Mr. Hector threatens free speech in Malaysia, by sending the wrong message to other human rights defenders, organizations and ‘whistle blowers’ who report such violations and might cause them to refrain from exposing abuses committed by businesses in Malaysia.

Moreover, Article 6 of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders recognizes that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others … freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms…”. The government of Malaysia has the corresponding obligation to take all necessary measures to protect defenders like Mr. Charles Hector against any retaliation as a consequence of his legitimate right to free speech and use it to expose human rights violations.

We strongly call on Asahi Kosei (M) Sdn. Bhd. and Asahi Kosei Japan Co. Ltd. to

1. Withdraw the legal action against Mr. Charles Hector immediately and unconditionally;
2. Launch immediate investigations into the authenticity of the allegations that Charles Hector has brought to light;
3. Act promptly to prevent any human rights abuse against migrant workers employed by the company. Asahi Kosei has the responsibility to ensure that all legally guaranteed worker’s rights and benefits are enjoyed equally by all workers of Asahi Kosei.

We also call on the Malaysian and Japanese Government to

1. Ensure that Charles Hector as a human rights defender can freely conduct his legitimate activities that promote and protect human rights, in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders;
2. Act against attempts by employers to evade their responsibility to protect their workers’ rights under the guise of employment relationship.

For further information please contact

Ms. Cecile Gaa of the Human Rights Defenders Department, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), email: Tel. no. + 66 26532940 ext. 402

Ms. Kazuko Ito, Secretary General, Human Rights Now, email:

# # #
About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

Visit our new website with more features at


Asian Human Rights Commission
#701A Westley Square,
48 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon,
Hongkong S.A.R.
Tel: +(852) - 2698-6339
Fax: +(852) - 2698-6367

Thursday, 26 May 2011

MALAYSIA: Human Rights Defender’s Case Update (25/5/2011)

Lawyers Francis Pereira briefing for Representatives from the Norwegian ( Mr Fredrink Steen) and Danish embassies(Mr  Jacob Byrby Lauren ) who  represented EU  member states , on the left  Daniel Lo  watching brief  for Bar  council

Charles Hector and Angeline Loh with law students from University Malaya, currently doing attachment at the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre

Asahi Kosei Sdn Bhd –V- Charles Hector Fernandez(Case No: 22 NCVC – 173 – 2011) came before Judge Lim Yee Lan at the Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia NCVC Court at the Shah Alam Court Complex

Charles Hector was represented by lawyers Francis Pereira
Asahi Kosei Sdn Bhd was represented by lawyer John Fam and Tan Tai Hwa
Malaysian Bar (Holding a Watching Brief) was represented by Daniel Lo

The case today came up for the hearing of:-

a)    Charles Hector’s application to amend pleadings (the Defence and Counter Claim)  - this application was allowed.

b)    Charles Hector’s application to add the 31 migrant workers as parties to the suit.  – the court heard submissions from parties and fixed 10/6/2011 as the date for decision.

·         The hearing for the day was conducted in the Judge’s chambers.

Other matters
1 – The 31 migrant workers were the victims of the alleged human rights, and whilst 26 of the workers are back at work at the Asahi Kosei factory, 5 are not and they risk the possibility of their work visas/pass being ended and the risk of arrest, detention and deportation back to Burma. Of the 5, 2 are workers that were sent to the airport to be sent back to Burma on 7/2/2011, and 2 others are workers that were taken for processing to be sent back when they refused to agree to the new agreement. The later 2 also affirmed Statutory Declarations, wherein it confirms the facts as contained in the Charles Hector Blog and also the Joint Media Statement issued by 84 civil society groups.

* Representatives from civil society, human rights groups and the Burmese migrant community were also present in court as a show of support and solidarity. Representatives from the Danish and Norwegian embassies, together with law students from University Malaya, currently doing attachment at the Bar Council Legal Aid Centre were present. Thank you also for the many well wishes we received from friends and colleagues in the struggle for human rights and justice.

Important Past Dates

14/2/2011 –  Charles Hector receives company’s lawyers letter of demand.
14/2/2011 – Company filed court action, and applies for an ex-parte interlocutory injunction
17/2/2011 – Hearing of application & Court grants ex-parte order
21/2/2011 – Charles Hector receives order & court documents (becomes aware for the first time that Company had filed suit and applied for an order)
4/3/2011 – 1st hearing date of Company’s inter-parte application for an interlocutory injunction.
1st hearing date for Charles Hector’s application to set aside ex-parte order of 17/2/2011
21/3/2011 – 2nd hearing date for both applications
30/3/2011 – 3rd hearing date for both applications
11/4/2011 – Court allows company’s application for interlocutory injunctions until end of trial, but narrowed it to just the said 31 named migrant workers, and prohibiting Charles Hector from communicating vide blog ( and twitting, and dismissed Charles Hector’s application to set aside judgment of 17/2/2011, ordering cost to be cost in the cost for the said 2 applications, and also with regard the order of 17/2/2011.

Next hearing date: 10/6/2011, at 9 am

Charles Hector, Human Rights Defender, Activist, Lawyer & Blogger is being sued by the company for defamation for raising information of human rights and worker rights violations of workers working in the said company on his Blog. Information circulated came from the 31 migrant workers from Burma. Before any posting, an email was sent to Asahi Kosei for their response, which contained also these words, “If there are anything that you would like to correct, kindly revert to me immediately. …An urgent response would be appreciated. Failing to hear from you, I would take it that the allegations of the workers are true.”. The company did not respond, and subsequently commenced a legal suit 6 days later.

The company’s main argument is that these are not their workers, but are workers supplied by an ‘outsourcing agent’. The company says that these workers are not on their ‘direct payroll’ …salaries are paid to the agent, hence they are not responsible for these workers, and for what happened. The company claims no knowledge of any termination or attempted deportation….or any ‘new agreement’.

Charles Hector is of the opinion that once the workers are supplied to the company, then an employment relationship arises…between the workers and the company…A company must be responsible for all workers that work in their factory.