Feb 13, 2009

Malaysia Humiliated in the United Nations Human Rights Council

Malaysia who aspires to be a leader in the region is shamed at the United Nations review of its human rights record. This is the umno led government of Malaysia that has brought great disrepute to this nation by gross disregard of international laws and human rights and umno here means also mca and mic and the other irrelevant parties whose names that can’t even be remembered.

Whilst the world progresses and lesser countries are upgraded and advances over Malaysia who once led the region in most aspect including economic growth and human rights development and was in the late 70s and early 80s a leader over countries like Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore and more and was the favored destination of migrants from all of Asia. And yet today it seems to have wavered from international standards and quality and is being chided by the United Nations and the laughing stock of the international community. It has become a joke in the region for its many disregards to common logic and its bullying and bumbling actions on its own people.

Malaysia’s international standing is an embarrassment today as compared to its early years of glory in the 70s where it excels and lead in the region in all areas of humanity even in sports like football and badminton as well as a high standard of education and attracting great wealth from international investors into the country, but that was than and now you can only wonder and reminisce on those good old days where Ali, Arumugan, AhSingh and Ah Fatt were all good friends and real Malaysians that played and prospered together.

It was even embarrassingly ranked at a lowly 98 over 140 countries for Civil and Political Liberties by Freedom House (an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world and founded in 1941) (Here is the Link: Freedom House) The African countries of Congo. Ethiopia, Togo, Zambia, Nigeria and etc was ranked just above Malaysia for civil and political freedom!
And shamefully ranked at No.47 for Corruption by Transparency International. (Check earlier posting Here: corruption-perception-index-2008).

Below are some of the questions and statements posted to the Malaysian delegation led by the Tan Sri Rastam Mohamad Isa, the secretary general in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia.

From the office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (United Nations):

A. Scope of international obligations

1. Malaysia has not ratified most of the major international human rights instruments, as highlighted by several organizations. The Bar Council of Malaysia (BCM) indicated that Malaysian Courts have taken the clear position that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is not legally-binding, and the Government of Malaysia (GOM) has stated on numerous occasions that the UDHR would only be given effect insofar as it is not inconsistent with the Federal Constitution (FC). This is one possible reason for the apparent reluctance to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and their respective optional protocols.3 Malaysia has also yet to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as indicated by Amnesty International (AI).

2. Malaysia has only ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), albeit with certain reservations, as noted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and other organizations.5 Malaysia’s accession to CEDAW is subject to the understanding that its provisions do not conflict Islamic Sharia law and the Constitution. SUHAKAM indicated that ratifying the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and implementing the Persons with Disabilities Act 2007 (PDA) should go hand-in-hand.7

(If Malaysia wants to be part of the developed world than it is obligated to adhere to International Laws of which she has not done so or umno has not done it or she can remain the pariah that is now so.)

B. Constitutional and legislative framework

3. The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR process (COMANGO) indicated that the FC guarantees the fundamental liberties, however the protection afforded has been diminished. Until 8 March 2008, the ruling parties have held more than two-thirds of the parliamentary seats and were as such in a position to amend the FC at their convenience. In 1988, amendments were made to the FC, subordinating the Judiciary to Parliament. The Becket Fund (BF) referred to the parallel Sharia and civil court systems. Non-Muslims are governed exclusively by civil law. Muslims are also governed by Sharia in specific matters, usually having to do with family law and property rights. 10 The European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ) further noted that the country’s civil court system has gradually ceded jurisdictional control to Sharia’s courts in family law areas involving disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.

READ THE FULL SUMMARY REPORT FROM THR HIGH COMMISSIONER GO HERE

SOME QUESTIONS FROM THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL MEMBERS:

SWEDEN

• Malaysia has still to ratify several of the main conventions in the Human Rights field such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Convention against Torture (CAT). Malaysia has also yet to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. What is the Government’s timetable for ratifying these conventions?


• The Internal Security Act (ISA) which allows the police to detain any person considered a threat to national security or public order for 60 days without commencing a just legal process gives cause for concern, especially given that the Government may extend the detention an indefinite number of times, without reference to the courts. The Act has allegedly been invoked to limit the freedom of press and to restrain political opposition. Moreover, there have been reports of degrading treatment during detention under the Act. How does the Government intend to ensure that its efforts to combat crime and secure public order do not infringe upon the freedom from arbitrary detention, the right to a fair trial and the freedoms of press and expression?


• The Penal Code of Malaysia criminalises consensual sexual activity among persons of the same sex. These acts are punishable with imprisonment and whipping. Indecent behaviour which includes cross-dressing is also regarded as an offence under the Minor Offences Act. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgender (LGBT) persons are routinely harassed and persecuted according to a study. What policy measures are the Government of Malaysia considering in order to promote tolerance and non-discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation or identity, in line with the Yogyakarta principles?


• Malaysia has not ratified the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol. There is a severe lack of domestic legal protection for asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons, including for minors, which face the risk of being indefinitely detained or deported. Moreover, there have been reports of unwarranted violence by immigration officers and the Malaysian Volunteer Corps (RELA). Can the Government please elaborate on how it intends to pursue the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees in line with international standards? Does the Government intend to ratify the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees?


NETHERLANDS

• The last few years Malaysia has made great strides towards freedom of the press and expression. However, last year some critics were arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Could Malaysia elaborate on these cases and also give an explanation of the use of the ISA, which was, as it is understood, originally meant for use against terrorism?

• Malaysia is not party to the Geneva Convention but gives much appreciated support to UNHCR regarding refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. Still there have been reported cases of mass arrests, deportations and inhuman conditions of detention. Could the government elaborate on these reports and indicate if measures are being taken to ensure that foreign nationals are being treated according to international laws in this area?

• The existing right to freedom of assembly in Malaysia seems to be mostly applicable to groups supporting government policies, while groups opposing government policies are often denied permission or targeted for arrests and/or harsh crackdowns.

Could Malaysia elaborate on this subject?


DENMARK

• What further steps does the Malaysian Government plan on taking in order to guarantee the rights and prevent discrimination of the indigenous peoples, i.e. to customary land, to proper educations and health services?


• What is the explanation of the Malaysian Government for having ratified only two of nine UN Conventions on Human Rights and is it the intention of the Malaysian Government to ratify further conventions in the near future? When will Malaysia ratify UNCAT, OPCAT and establish an independent and effective national preventive mechanism?


• Reports indicate that torture and ill treatment has taken place during arrest and interrogation. What steps are taken to investigate these reports, to bring the perpetrators to justice, and to prevent any further incidents?

GERMANY

• Both the ICCPR and the ICESCR have not yet been ratified by Malaysia. Does the government of Malaysia plan to ratify core human rights treaties, such as ICCPR and ICESCR, in the near future? Has the government of Malaysia finished reviewing its reservations on the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in particular articles 5 (a) and 7 (b), and are there plans to withdraw all or some of these reservations?


• Germany has followed with great interest the establishment of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), which is a commendable development. However, doubts were expressed over whether SUHAKAM acts in agreement with the Paris Principles. Therefore, Germany would like to ask the Malaysian delegation to deliniate the exact scope of the mandate of SUHAKAM. Moreover, which steps has the government of Malaysia taken, or is going to take, to ensure full conformity of its National Human Rights institution with the Paris Principles?


LITHUANIA

• Lithuania would like to ask about the plans to ratify international human rights instruments in the near future.

UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND

• Could you elaborate on the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA); on whether any steps are being taken to modify or repeal this law and others allowing for detention without trial such as the Emergency Ordnance and the Dangerous Drugs Act; and on whether Malaysia plans to place greater emphasis in all cases on investigation and prosecution?


• Could you outline what protection is given to refugees and migrant workers in Malaysia. We would also be grateful to know whether any consideration is being given to signing the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees.


• We would be grateful to hear whether Malaysia is considering a moratorium on capital punishment with a view to abolition. And also if Malaysia is considering any reforms on the use of corporal punishment in detention.


• Could you please elaborate on how Malaysia guarantees freedom of religion for all citizens as stated in the Federal Constitution, including the right to leave a faith, the right to a place of worship for all faiths and the rights of non-Sunni Muslims to worship?


• Could you describe the nature of freedom of expression and assembly in Malaysia? Could you also tell us whether consideration is being given to grant all sectors of the media the freedom of expression guaranteed on the internet by the Multimedia Act?


• Could you advise if Malaysia is taking any steps towards signing up to other international human rights instruments, and what steps Malaysia is taking to implement recommendations made by both the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women


• Could you advise if steps are being taken to ensure Suhakam, the national human rights body, complies fully with the Paris Principles status on National Human Rights Institutions.


READ the Full Compilation of the United Nations Human Rights Council HERE
Read some Press Report HERE
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