Monday, June 13, 2016

‘Shafee appointed rights ambassador, but Suhakam left vacant’

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Suaram has slammed the appointment of lawyer Muhammad Shafee Abdullah as the Malaysian ambassador-at-large on human rights, saying he had no credible record of defending human rights.

If the government were serious about human rights, the human rights group said, it would not have left the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) without commissioners for the past few months and severely slashed its budget.

“The ongoing human rights violations and clampdown against freedom of expression and other human rights makes it clear that the government of Malaysia has little to no interest in fulfilling its obligations to defend human rights.

“If the government of Malaysia was genuine in its commitment to human rights in Malaysia, it would have appointed the new commissioners for Suhakam by now and increased the financial allocations for Suhakam instead of cutting its budget by half,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy in a statement today.

He urged that the government stop misdirecting the international community on Malaysia’s human rights record.

The term of the 2013-2016 batch of Suhakam commissioners ended on April 25, and the posts have been left vacant since.

Prior to that, the 2016 budget saw the commission’s allocations reduced from almost RM11 million to RM5.5 million.

Activities limited to Klang Valley

According to a parliamentary reply by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Paul Low, Suhakam is trying to make ends meet by limiting its activities to the Klang Valley, and limiting overseas trips to sponsored events or important functions, among other measures.
Yesterday, anti-corruption watchdog Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) highlighted that two out of five Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) oversight bodies have similarly been left without panel members.
These are the MACC’s Operations Review Panel (ORP) and the Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel (CCPP).

The posts have been vacant since Feb 24 after its members’ terms expired, despite urgings from MACC advisory board chairperson Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim for the vacancies to be filled urgently.

As for Shafee, he was appointed to serve a two-year term in the newly-created post on Thursday last week.

He was previously the Malaysian representative at the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) until his two-term limit expired last year.

He was also a Suhakam commissioner from 2004 to 2010.

However, Shafee is best known for being the lead prosecutor in the Sodomy II trial against then-opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, and for representing the Negri Sembilan government when a group of transgender persons challenged the state’s laws against cross-dressing.

~ Malaysiakini

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