Proham calls on the Government to ensure that there is a functioning Human Rights Commission at all times and not to repeat the past mistake in 2010 wherein the Government had failed to appoint new Commissioners upon the expiry of the terms of the then Commissioners appointed pursuant to the provisions of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has a statutory duty to function and the Commission must be allowed to carry on with their duties effectively. A non-functioning SUHAKAM is detrimental to the needs of the nation namely to ensure that there is no infringement of human rights and if any to take immediate steps to remedy the same.Therefore, Proham urges the caretaker Government to appoint new Commissioners before the expiry of the term of the current Commissioners which falls on April 25, 2013. We recognise that we have a caretaker government at the moment and we are in the general elections period but this matter is of public importance that it should not be neglected.
We recognise that the Federal Government had placed an advertisement in the newspapers in October 2012 which is commendable and which enhances transparency and public participation in appointment of Suhakam Commissioners. We also note that the Selection Committee has met to review the candidate list. We therefore urge the caretaker Prime Minister to seek Royal appointments based on the recommendation of the Selection Committee prior to the expiry of the current term of the commissioners.The Najib administration will be in danger of being accused of poor governance of administrative procedure and a down planning of human rights concerns in Malaysia if these remedies are not undertaken before April 25, 2013.
Proham is rather concerned that SUHAKAM has not made public the report on the National Inquiry into Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This was a massive undertaking by Suhakam and historical in nature as this is the first ever National inquiry undertaken by Suhakam since its establishment.Over 892 statements were received from indigenous people on allegations of dispossession of their traditional lands especially among the natives of Sabah, Sarawak and Orang Asli communities. In addition 57 public submissions were received. In this context Suhakam conducted public hearings where 132 cases were reviewed in-depth with indigenous people coming forward to give testimony as well as all relevant agencies came forward to give account of their actions or inaction.
Proham acknowledges and appreciates the hard work of Suhakam in the meticulous way it has undertaken the National Inquiry. However with the impending expiry of the term of Commissioners, it is imperative that Suhakam releases the report for public review and study. Unlike the Suhakam Annual Report which needs to be submitted to Parliament, an inquiry report is an independent review and therefore must be released.In not releasing the report before the end of the tenure of the current Commission, Suhakam might be in danger of non-disclosure of the facts gathered and the conclusions drawn. In addition there might be a potential loss of public confidence which might be against the human rights interest of disadvantaged indigenous people who came in large numbers before the Commission with a great hope for justice in a matter so badly neglected in the past.
Proham therefore calls on the caretaker Prime Minister to take the right action in ensuring the appointment of the new commission before the expiry date and also appeals to the current Suhakam Chairman to take the bold step by releasing the National Land Inquiry Report before the end of his term.-----------------------------------------------------
Issued on behalf of Proham by Tan Sri Simon Sipaun (Chairman), Datuk Kuthubul Zaman (Exco) and Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (Proham Secretary General). April 17, 2013