Home Civil Society Voices 2017 Civil Society Voices Zunar’s travel ban challenge: Judge agrees to recuse herself

Zunar’s travel ban challenge: Judge agrees to recuse herself

Zunar is blocked from travelling to Singapore by an immigration officer at KLIA on 17 October 2016

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Judge Hanifah Farikullah agreed to recuse herself from hearing Zunar’s case challenging the travel ban imposed by the Malaysian government at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on 8 February, the cartoonist has said.

Lawyers Latifah Koya, Eric Paulsen and Melissa Sasidaran submitted the aplication on my behalf on the ground that Hanifah had decided in two previous cases of Tony Pua’s and Hishamuddin Rais’ involving similar issues and laws.

There was no objection from the attorney general’s chambers on the application. The court will inform me the date for the next session.

On 7 December 2016, I filed a leave application for a judicial review to challenge the Immigration Department’s decision barring me from travelling overseas. I named the Immigration director-general, home minister and the government as respondents.

I am seeking a certiorari order to quash the travel restriction by the respondents, which was informed to me orally at KLIA airport on 17 October 2016. The order seeks to review that the travel ban violates Article 5 (1), Article 8 and/or Article 9 of the Federal Constitution and therefore to declare that the ban is null, void and unconstitutional.

I am also seeking a mandamus order from the court to instruct the respondents to allow me to travel overseas without restrictions.

On 17 October 2016, I was at the KL International Airport leaving for Singapore to attend a forum when I was stopped by the immigration officers.

Recently, I was unable to travel to Switzerland for the launch of my exhibition in Morges due to the travel ban.


Court: 24 January 2017. Case: Nine charges under the Sedition Act, which carries maximum penalty of 43 years. (Has been postponed to 11 May)

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17 December 2016 – Zunar was arrested under a new law – for activities “detrimental To parlimentary democracy” – which carries a maximun penalty of 15 years jail. 1,300 copies of his cartoon books were confiscated.

26 November 2016 – Zunar was arrested, detained and investigated under two laws: the Sedition Act and the Penal Code.

25 November 2016 – Zunar was forced to call off his exhibition in Penang (about four hours drive up north of Kuala Lumpur) due to an attack by pro-government thugs.

17 October 2016 – Zunar was banned from travelling abroad by the Malaysian government.

2 April 2015 – Zunar was slapped with nine charges under the archaic Sedition Act and faces a possible 43 years imprisonment.

10 February – Zunar was arrested under the Sedition Act.

24 September 2010 – Arrested under the Sedition Act.

Beside that, his office has been raided several times; his webmaster has been arrested; the printers who print his books were also raided. Nine of his cartoons book were banned.


  1. Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award 2011 by Cartoonists Rights Network International
  2. Cartooning For Peace Award 2016, Geneva
  3. Human Rights Watch Hellman/Hammett Award for 2011 and 2015
  4. International Press Freedom Award, Committee to Protect Journalist, New York, 2015
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