Malaysia broke human rights pledges, says watchdog report

By Shannon Teoh | TMI

KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Malaysia failed to live up to the human rights standards it had committed to in 2006 in its pre-election pledge to the United Nations Human Rights Council (Council), a Commonwealth human rights watchdog said yesterday.

A report by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) that corresponds to the first two years after the March 2008 election said that Malaysia made little progress to advance human rights domestically, allegedly using “draconian legislation” to stifle dissent instead.

“While Malaysia claimed in its pledge that it had succeeded in achieving a balance between human rights and security requirements, the continued use of draconian colonial-era security legislation suggests otherwise,” said the CHRI.

“Malaysia made specific commitments to advance the rights of vulnerable groups, including refugees and asylum seekers. The findings of the report indicate, however, that little substantive progress was made on this pledge.

“Malaysia further pledged to work towards making the council a strong body. Despite this pledge, the report’s findings show that Malaysia mostly voted to shield countries with human rights situations of serious concern from international scrutiny,” the international NGO said.

In 2006, Malaysia was one of 18 Asian candidates that contested the 13 seats reserved for Asia in the council. Malaysia was elected fifth in the Asian Group, with 158 votes.

Malaysia decided not to seek re-election to the council when its three-year term ended in May 2009.

The report titled “Easier Said Than Done” said that Malaysia allegedly continued to used “draconian legislation” such as sedition and press laws to stifle dissent.

It noted that “the highly controversial Internal Security Act” which allows for detention without trial remained in effect at the end of the reporting period, which was from mid-2008 to mid-2010.

“Journalists in Malaysia were reportedly harassed and opposition members were intimidated. Much needed police reforms did not occur, while police abuse, custodial deaths and extrajudicial killings were frequently reported.

“Additionally, the death penalty and corporal punishment continued to be practised. Malaysia’s National Human Rights Commission remained weak, while discrimination based on religion and ethnicity continued to be a major concern,” it added.

The CHRI also said that despite Malaysia’s pledge to actively support international action to advance the rights of vulnerable groups including children, refugees, asylum seekers and legal and illegal migrants still suffered and child marriages continued to take place.

Malaysia also discouraged the efforts of United Nations Special Rapporteur investigators on torture to consider whether the death penalty constituted a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, said the report.

“It also reacted strongly against an attempt by the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression to comment on the defamation of religions,” the CHRI wrote.

The CHRI also reported that Malaysia discouraged scrutiny of Myanmar and Sri Lanka, looked at Cambodia positively, supported weaker resolutions on Congo and Sudan and abstained from voting North Korea and a resolution on discrimination based on religion or belief.

According to the CHRI website, it is an independent, non-partisan, international non-governmental organisation, mandated to ensure the practical realisation of human rights in the countries of the Commonwealth.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - 11:42 am

    The big talk about democratic freedom and human rights by the ruling party turned out to be no more than a show.

  2. #2 by Bunch of Suckers on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - 11:48 am

    Nope! Those UMNO/BN suckers don’t know what is Human Rights. Even they know; they pretended they don’t know… What do you expect UMNO/BN goons and thugs to know?

    For sure, they do know what is money! With money, they can suck you all up…

  3. #3 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - 11:51 am

    The degree and type of human right is not determined by you. It is a matter of choice. Like it is a human right to sleep when sleepy. But it does not have to be your right when you are told you can only close your eyes and sleep at 12 midnight. Which is ridiculous. But which is happening.

  4. #4 by wanderer on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - 1:04 pm

    Do Malaysians expect the “Master race” to respect human rights?…these immoral goons respect only their ego and arrogance…ketuanan UMNO melayu
    faked Muslims!

    • #5 by cemerlang on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - 10:50 pm

      Someone great once said respect is to be earned. hmmm? By the time respect is earned, what do you think will happen ? Probably nothing still.

  5. #6 by dagen on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - 1:10 pm

    Universal human rights = ketuanan rights. Understand? So umno is not violating anything. Umno in fact is the champion of ketun.. err.. universal human rights. Get it?

  6. #7 by DAP man on Tuesday, 15 March 2011 - 4:22 pm

    CHRI has to understand that Malaysia is one country that is all talk and no action. The leaders will lie through their teeth but just do the opposite.
    For example, it introduces 1 Malaysia but breaks up the people into races and religious groups – the PM is the greatest conman in town.
    He sells coconut oil and claims it is ‘tiger penis oil lelaki kuat’.

  7. #8 by dcasey on Wednesday, 16 March 2011 - 12:00 am

    Wow looks like Malaysia has succeeded in achieving something here. It has descended itself to be the champion of 3rd world league countries like Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Congo, Sudan and North Korea. Malaysia’s message here to these countries is “you scratch my back I scratch yours”…everything ok. In bolehland, everything boleh, no need for human rights what!

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