Tuesday, 10 December 2013
Myanmar may score better than Malaysia on human rights, says Suhakam chief
Myanmar, which until recently was considered a "pariah state", may one day overtake Malaysia in meeting international standards for human rights, according to Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, chairman of Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, or Suhakam.
“I won’t be surprised if they one day overtake us. They have already signed on to three international core instruments on human rights," said Hasmy when met today after the Suhakam Human Rights Award 2013 ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.
Hasmy said ratifying more of the core nine human rights instruments was important if Putrajaya wants to ensure that the rights of all groups and individuals, regardless of race, religion and background, are respected.
“When I met with government officials in Myanmar last year, I challenged them to race with Malaysia in signing more and they took up the challenge,” he added.
Myanmar has in recent months embarked on a series of reforms, including releasing political prisoners, allowing freedom of assembly and lifting media censorship, although the country has been criticised over persecution of its ethnic minorities.
Putrajaya has so far only signed on to three rights since the nine core instruments were gradually introduced over the past 50 years.
Hasmy said Malaysia has a poor record of ratifying human rights conventions as the government is concerned that it will not be able to implement them once they are signed.
International conventions can be used as a reference by the courts to force the government to recognise and observe the rights of groups who have petitioned the government.
“We hope that by 2020 we will be able to sign on to more conventions,” said Hasmy.