Recording police raids or arrests not an offence, lawyers take home minister to task

“… the home minister is either ignorant of the law or deliberately preventing the scrutiny of any abuse of power or unlawful act by members of the police force”

(MalaysiaNow) – Lawyers for Liberty says the government itself has approved the use of body cameras for the police.

Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) today took Hamzah Zainudin to task for calling it an offence to record or livestream the police during raids or arrests, saying the home minister has no legal basis for his claim.

Hamzah, in a written reply in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, had said that those who film an arrest or raid could face action under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstructing a public officer or disrupting investigations.

He also said that sharing such incidents was a violation of Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) on disturbing others.

But LFL director Zaid Malek said there were no legal provisions criminalising the act of recording police officers in the course of their duty, whether by camera, video or livestream.

“Indeed, we know of no such offence anywhere else in the democratic world,” he said.

“On the contrary, recording public servants in their enforcement actions is a positive act as it helps prevent wrongful acts or abuse of power.

“To know that they are being watched is salutary for the integrity and performance of the public services, particularly the police force.”

Zaid also questioned if Hamzah had sought advice from the Attorney-General’s Chambers on the matter, calling it “sheer nonsense” for the minister to rely on the Penal Code and CMA to support his claim.

“Recording or live-streaming is not an obstruction of police officers doing their duty as defined in Section 186 of the Penal Code,” he said.

“Neither does Section 233 of the CMA encompass the act of recording the actions of police officers or sharing it online.”

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