\"KEEP IRENE FREE DEFEND THE DEFENDERS \" CAMPAIGN On October 16, 2003, Irene Fernandez, the Director of Tenaganita was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by the Magistrates Court for the Memorandum on \"Abuse , Torture and Dehumanized Treatment of Migrant Workers in Detention Cetnres\". The memorandum was sent to relevant authorities and the media in August 1995. Tenaganita compiled the Memorandum from over 300 interviews with former detainees and the information from the Sun Magazine journalists who did their own independent investigation. Irene was consequently arrested and charged in March 1996 under the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984 for maliciously publishing false news. During the seven and half year trial, seen as the longest in Malaysia, Irene went to court 310 times for full hearing . The trial conviction demonstrates that there is no protection for human rights defenders to articulate concerns over human rights violations. Such a trend not only curtails constructive criticism but has serious implications for all organizations involved in promotion and protection of rights of people. The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders calls on all nations to protect and respect human rights defenders so that they can fulfil their role and responsibilities as defenders. We therefore urge the Prime Minister of Malaysia, YAB Dato Seri Abdullah Haji Badawi to free Irene Fernandez from imprisonment for speaking the truth and to investigate allegations of ill treatment of migrants. PROTECT DEFENDERS OF HUMAN RIGHTS
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