Monday, November 18, 2013

Malaysia below par on human rights

Several female based organisations have come forward in protest of the government and society’s view on women and LGBTQ people including Sisters in Islam andSeksualiti Merdeka (Independent Sexuality).

But Malaysia is not going to change any time soon, not when even women themselves have so much internalized misogyny that they too are convinced that their position is inferior to their male counterparts

Malaysia had a torrid time at the recently-concluded second United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva. It presented its human rights record to the 100 or so member states, and in return, received their critiques and recommendations – all 292 of them. 

This contrasts with the 2009 UPR, when Malaysia received a total of 103 recommendations, of which 62 were accepted and 22 were noted. The government clarified its position on the remaining 19 recommendations.

This time, the Malaysian government has until next March to respond to the avalanche of recommendations, which, among others, include eradicating discrimination based on sexual orientation, repealing both the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publication Act, resolving conflicts of competence between civil and Syariah courts, and amending Section 114A of the Evidence Act to increase freedom of expression.

Malaysia had ratified three UN conventions: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), both in 1995, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2010).

In 2009, the government had told the UN it would consider ratification of the other six international human rights instruments.

Given Malaysia’s track record in the last four years, it is difficult to imagine it delivering on the key recommendations, much less ratifying the treaties. Despite this, Malaysia continues to project itself as a nation that protects human rights, an action that sounds hollow, and even hypocritical to the most severe of critics.

Andrew Khoo, chairman of the Bar Council Human Rights Committee, is deeply disappointed with the government’s sluggish attitude towards ratifying the core treaties and falling short of the standards the government supposedly holds itself.

“These six treaties are of huge importance and we wonder why it is taking so long for the government to ratify them. The Bar Council and the other NGOs have always said we were willing to assist the government in any studies and discussions but so far, we have been shut out of these studies,” Khoo told The Heat.

To find out why Malaysia delays in signing the core UN treaties on human rights, check out pages 06+07+08 of The Heat.