Irene Fernandez

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Fernandez in 2008

Irene Fernandez (18 April 1946 – 31 March 2014) was a Malaysian human rights activist. She was a PKR supreme council member [1] and the director and co-founder of the non-governmental organization Tenaganita, which promotes the rights of migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia.

In 1995, Irene Fernandez published a report on the living conditions of the migrant workers entitled "Abuse, Torture and Dehumanised Conditions of Migrant Workers in Detention Centres".[2] The report was based in part on information given to her by Steven Gan and a team of reporters from The Sun, who had uncovered evidence that 59 inmates, primarily Bangladeshis, had died in the Semenyih immigration detention camp of the preventable diseases typhoid and beriberi.[3][4] When Gan and his colleagues were blocked by Sun editors from printing the report in the paper, they passed it to Fernandez.[5]

She was arrested in 1996 and charged with 'maliciously publishing false news'.[5] After seven years of trial, she was found guilty in 2003 and convicted to one year's imprisonment. Released on bail pending her appeal, her passport was held by the courts, and as a convicted criminal, she was barred from standing as parliamentary candidate in the 2004 Malaysian elections.[citation needed]

In 2005, she was awarded the Right Livelihood Award for "her outstanding and courageous work to stop violence against women and abuses of migrant and poor workers".[6]

Irene Fernandez's appeal at the High Court resumed on 28 October 2008. On 24 November 2008, Justice Mohd Apandi Ali overturned her earlier conviction and acquitted her, ending the thirteen-year case.[7][8]

She died on 31 March 2014 of heart failure.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Rocket - DAP Newsletter
  2. ^ "Activist Irene Fernandez acquitted". TheStar Online. Archived from the original on 2008-12-17. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  3. ^ "ICIJ Journalists: Steven Gan". International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Steven Gan (Summer 2002). "Virtual Democracy in Malaysia". Nieman Reports. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  5. ^ a b "IPF Awards 2000 - Announcement". Committee to Protect Journalists. 2000. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Right Livelihood Award Recipient: Irene Fernandez". Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved 2006-08-30. 
  7. ^ "Irene Fernandez Freed". Sin Chew. Retrieved 2008-08-24. 
  8. ^ "Ms. Irene Fernandez finally acquitted!". International Federation for Human Rights. 25 November 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Activist Irene Fernandez dies". TheStar Online. Retrieved 2014-03-31. 

External links[edit]