Malaysia's human rights record is detereorating at an "alarming" rate, Amnesty International concluded after its secretary-general Salil Shetty's visit to the country this week.
"Malaysian authorities must do everything to halt an alarming downward spiral on human rights as the government relies on overly broad and vague laws to silence and lock up critics.S
"Everything I saw and heard in Malaysia confirmed what we have observed over the past years – space for freedom of expression is shrinking as authorities increase their crackdown to silence dissent.
"As the chair of Asean and a member of the UN Security Council, Malaysia should be a regional leader on human rights. Instead, its international reputation is suffering,” Shetty said in a statement.
The only positive development was the fact that there was no crackdown on the Bersih 4 rally last weekend, he said.
Even so, he noted Putrajaya still made efforts to scuttle the protest.
"Thankfully the Bersih rally passed peacefully without the abuses by security forces that we have previously seen. But authorities’ attempts to declare the protest illegal and investigate its leaders was worrying,” he said.
Shetty was in Malaysia to attend the 16th International Anti-Corruption Commission (IACC), which concluded yesterday.
The conference saw several international anti-graft figures criticised Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak for not properly explaining the RM2.6 billion in his personal account.
"There is an obvious irony to the fact that Malaysia is hosting an anti-corruption conference at a time when there are so many questions over high-level corruption in Malaysia itself,” he said.
Shetty, who met with government and opposition representatives, civil society leaders and the media during his visit, noted that the misuse of the Sedition Act and the Penal Code have led to scores of arrests in the last few years.
"These draconian laws fly in the face of Malaysia’s own constitution and international standards. They must be reviewed or repealed," he said.
Shetty also raised concern about the jailing of former Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's continued use of the death penalty and also incidences of custodial deaths.
He also called on the country to improve efforts to deal with refugees.