Urgent Action Update: Student Convicted For Posession of 'Illegal' Books (Malaysia: UA 79.17)
Research student Siti Noor Aishah has been sentenced by the Kuala Lumpur High Court to five years in prison for possessing 12 books deemed ‘illegal’ by the Malaysian government.
On 26 April, the Kuala Lumpur High Court sentenced Siti Noor Aishah to five years in prison for her possession of 12 books. She was found guilty under Section 130JB(1)(a) of Malaysia’s Penal Code which prohibits any “possession, custody or control of any item associated with any terrorist group or the commission of a terrorist act”. The law is both broad and vague as it does not clearly define what books or other materials would be prohibited.
While Siti Noor Aishah contended the books were for researching her thesis at Universiti Malaya, where she majored in Islamic studies, the High Court indicated it applied the standard of strict liability which meant the reason for her having the books was irrelevant. The 12 books in question are not banned and can be legally purchased at bookshops in the country.
After her first arrest on 22 March 2016, Siti Noor Aishah was subjected to prolonged periods of detention pending her most recent hearing before the High Court.