Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law deported from Malaysia


The Bruno Manser Fund has been informed that Clare Rewcastle Brown, the editor of Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak has been deported from Kuching, Sarawak, today, on orders from Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s office.

Clare Rewcastle, who has been awarded the International Press Institute’s Free Media Pioneer Award 2013, was on the way to Kuching to defend herself in a libel case brought against her by a crony of the Taib government.

Clare Rewcastle told the Bruno Manser Fund that she arrived at Kuching airport at 11:45 a.m.local time on Wednesday on an Air Asia flight from Singapore. She was awaited by her lawyers at the gate who accompanied her to immigration. Despite earlier assurances given by the Malaysian officials that she would be allowed to enter the country, Clare Rewcastle was told by immigration officials that she was on the so-called NTL (“not-to-land”) list. The former BBC journalist was immediately brought to a confinement room at the Kuching airport and escorted to the next flight to Singapore.

She was told that she was banned from entering Sarawak under section 65 (1) (A) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 without any further reason being given. However, several officials mentioned that she had been banned under instructions form the Chief Minister’s office. Clare Rewcastle, who is married to a brother of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, is currently on the way back from Singapore to London.

According to Clare Rewcastle, a well-known Malaysian politician from Taib Mahmud’s party had filed a court action in Kuching against her as the responsible editor of Sarawak Report, with the aim of obtaining an out-of-jurisdiction-order for an alleged libel offence. “It has been drawn to my attention that there is a general convention within the English court system to enforce a judgement by a Commonwealth Court. I believe they are seeking to abuse the system by achieving a kangaroo court judgement in Sarawak and seeking to enforce that in the UK.”

The Bruno Manser Fund protests against this latest barring of a human rights activist upon entering Malaysia. Earlier this year, Australian Senator Nick Xenophon had been deported from the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, in a similar way. In 2011, Malaysian authorities deported French human rights lawyer William Bourdon who had been taken on by a local NGO in a high-profile corruption case. Under Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, Sarawak has become a prohibited zone for a number of Malaysian human rights activists, including Ambiga Sreenevasan, the co-chair of the Bersih movement for free and fair elections.

The Bruno Manser Fund calls on the British government to formally protest against the unacceptable banishment of Clare Rewcastle Brown from Malaysia and calls on British Prime Minister David Cameron to bring up the issue tomorrow in his meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

A video statement by Clare Rewcastle on today’s incident can be accessed under: