Malaysiakini Letter

Way forward for human rights in Malaysia

Comango  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | While the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (Comango) is happy to note the positive change in the overall tone by the Malaysian delegation in today’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR), the coalition is mindful that the challenge lies in the legislation and implementation of the recommendations made at the review.

The Comango team in Geneva, Switzerland, led by co-secretariat member Rizal Rozhan said, “The recommendations on human rights defenders, protection of minority groups - children, persons with disabilities, LGBT, indigenous people - are encouraging. The ball is now in Malaysia’s court now to accept all these recommendations.”

The third cycle of the UPR for Malaysia concluded with a laundry list of things to do by the Pakatan Harapan government.

While Malaysia has reiterated its commitment to all remaining conventions, UN Member States pressed the government for clear timeframes for the ratification.

UN Member States also recommended for Malaysia to withdraw all reservations for the conventions that it has already signed up to, namely the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and (Convention on the Rights of People With Disabilities) CRPD.

According to Ryan Chua from Komas, “The reiteration by the Malaysian government to commit itself to espouse the principles promoted by the UN is highly commendable. It is now time for us to take our “new mature democracy” to newer heights where international norms becomes something regular to Malaysia.”

Majidah Hashim from Sisters in Islam says that the government should see the recommendations made as a validation of Pakatan Harapan’s mandate, which should accelerate its implementations.

“Over ten countries called for Malaysia to step up efforts to raise the marriageable to 18 for all children. This shows that Harapan is moving in the right direction by ending child marriage, but we’d like to see Harapan move quicker without conditions on this matter.”

Other Harapan plans that are aligned with UPR’s recommendations is to abolish the death penalty, put moratorium on bad laws such as Sedition Act, Communications & Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (Pota), Prevention of Crime Act (Poca), enact the Gender Equality Bill and calls for review of Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 (PAA) and Printing Presses & Publication Act 1984 (PPPA).

Nevertheless, a number of items remains unaddressed altogether. Honey Tan from Empower wondered why the government didn’t commit to a timeline in filing the CRPD report to the committee, as it was ratified in 2008.

She also urged the government to criminalise marital rape as recommended by several countries during the review.

Comango was formed by civil society organisations in 2008 to engage in the UN's UPR. It is the biggest civil society coalition of its kind in the UPR process, comprising of over 50 organisations. Empower acts as co-secretariat for Comango, with Suaram.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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