Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fix legal framework and abide by UPR, Amnesty tells M'sia

12:10PM Oct 30, 2013 

Amnesty International and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) have both slammed Malaysian officials for making “empty talk” at last week’s Universal Periodical Review (UPR) in Geneva even as its human rights position went out of whack with international norms.

The human rights watchdogs demanded a concrete action plan from Malaysia, especially on upgrading the laws to allow more freedom for civil society to flourish in line with its aim to reach developed country status. At the very least, laws on the death penalty, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, must now be strengthened in line with international standards, they said.

“Malaysian government representatives present at the review failed to adequately respond to many of the questions raised by UN member states and were unable to give clear action plans or timelines on many of the key issues,” the NGOs said in a joint statement.

After Malaysia presented its report at its second UPR last Thursday, representatives from about 103 UN-member states were each given a minute to present their views and recommendations, in a fast and furious manner, to Malaysia. 

Amnesty and Suaram said they hoped Malaysia took notes from the three-and-a-half hour sitting, which is held only once every four-and-a-half years.

“In line with recommendations made by UNmember states, Amnesty International and Suaram recommend that the Malaysian government pay upmost attention to the recommendations made during its second UPR, accept them all, and take concrete and effective steps to implement them at the earliest opportunity.”

Almost a third of the UN members reminded Malaysia to ratify the core human rights treaties such as International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).

Malaysia has also yet to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the 1951 Refugee Convention, nor the International Convention on Protection of Migrant Workers and their Families.  

Ongoing rights violations

While Malaysia has repealed some restrictive laws in recent years, there are ongoing human rights violations, in part resulting from an inadequate legal framework, the NGOs said.

Chief among this was the failure to repeal the Sedition Act, promised since 2009, they noted.

Eleven states - Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Poland, Russia, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America - raised concerns or made recommendations on the lack of freedom of expression and assembly in Malaysia during its second UPR, they said.

Other issues of concern which garnered attention were laws which allowed detention of criminals without trial, torture, ill-treatment and deaths in police custody and the mandatory death penalty for drug-trafficking.

“In 2012 the government announced a de facto moratorium on executions, however, according to reliable sources, at least two people have been executed in 2013. These executions were shrouded in secrecy. Courts continue to impose death sentences,” they said.

Amnesty International and Suaram also backed the establishment of an independent body to watch law enforcement officers and deal with complains of police acting out of line.

~ Malaysiakini

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