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Friday, 21 March 2014

Human Rights Council adopts Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Malaysia

20 March 2014

The Human Rights Council during its noon meeting adopted the outcomes of the Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia.  The Vice-President of the Council said that that Malaysia had received 232 recommendations, including 150 that received support while the rest had been noted
 
Dato Mazlan Muhammad, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Malaysia supported roughly 64 per cent of all recommendations proposed and had shown flexibility by supporting a number of recommendations on difficult issues. Malaysia had already taken steps to implement a number of recommendations, including on the establishment of a National Human Rights Action Plan. The Government acknowledged that more could be done to make human rights information in general, and the Universal Periodic Review process specifically, more widely available and was exploring ways to better disseminate information at the grass-roots level.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia also spoke.

In the discussion on Malaysia, speakers thanked Malaysia for its constructive participation during the review process and the acceptance of many recommendations. Satisfaction was expressed about Malaysia’s commitment to human rights, especially overcoming social inequality through the Government’s transformation programme. Progress made in the areas of education, health, combating poverty and to improvement in living standards, as well as women’s rights, the rights of the child, of persons with disabilities and of indigenous peoples was also highlighted. However, disappointment was expressed about the rejection of recommendations on equality and marriage, marital rape, the prohibition of corporal punishment, and the death penalty.

Speaking in the discussion on Malaysia were Senegal, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Algeria, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, China and Cuba.

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development, World Organization against Torture, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Dignity International, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, Human Rights Watch, Action Canada for Population and Development, Amnesty International and British Humanist Association also took the floor.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia.
Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia
The Council has before it the report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on Malaysia (A/HRC/25/10)

DATO MAZLAN MUHAMMAD, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, said Malaysia supported roughly 64 per cent, or two-thirds, of all recommendations proposed and had shown flexibility by supporting a number of recommendations on difficult issues, which showed its commitment to improving human rights on the ground. The recommendations that did not enjoy Malaysia’s support this time may be reconsidered in the future. Malaysia had already taken steps to implement a number of recommendations, including on the establishment of a National Human Rights Action Plan. Mr. Muhammad said that on 4 December 2013 the Minister of Legal Affairs convened the first meeting of the National Steering Committee which was comprised of senior Government officials and representatives of academia and civil society, and was mandated to establish five technical sub-committees that would implement the action plan in five key areas.

The Government acknowledged that more could be done to make human rights information in general, and the Universal Periodic Review process specifically, more widely available and was exploring ways to better disseminate information at the grass-roots level. To improve the overall living conditions of people, in 2012 the Government for the first time implemented a direct cash transfer programme known as ‘BR1M’, in which payments were paid to the most vulnerable households and individuals, those earning three to four thousand Malaysian Ringgit per month. BR1M was considered to be a comprehensive social security safety net and on 22 February 2014 the Government rolled out the third round of BR1M payments to some seven million people. The Permanent Representative said he looked forward to hearing the views of stakeholders and partners on Malaysia’s second round of the Universal Periodic Review.

HASMY AGAM, National Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, hoped that the Government would diligently implement recommendations and urged it to give priority to accession to the core international human rights treaties. The Commission welcomed the establishment of a task force to look at the implementation of recommendation concerning the land rights of indigenous peoples, and expressed concerns about the enactment of security legislation. The Commission also welcomed the increased attention paid by non-governmental organizations to the review process, highlighting its importance for the promotion and human rights. Finally, the Commission also expressed concerns about reprisals taken against human rights activists cooperating with the Council.

Senegal thanked Malaysia for the additional information provided in the addendum to its report and welcomed the renewed commitment to ensure the full realisation of rights. Senegal believed that the protection of the rights of vulnerable people should be given priority in the implementation of recommendations.

Singapore thanked Malaysia for its constructive participation during the review process, including its acceptance of the recommendations made by Singapore. Recommending the adoption of the report, Singapore expressed the intention to continue to cooperate with Malaysia for the promotion of rights in the region, including as part of ASEAN initiatives.

Sri Lanka appreciated the comprehensive responses provided by Malaysia during the review and the acceptance of many of the recommendations. Sri Lanka noted that Malaysia had successfully harnessed its diversity for development, as enshrined in the One Malaysia concept, and recommended the adoption of the report.

Sudan thanked and commended Malaysia for its commitment, open approach and positive response to the Universal Periodic Review process and said Malaysia had made great efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights.

Thailand noted with appreciation Malaysia’s acceptance of Thailand’s recommendation on providing universal access to affordable healthcare services for poor, vulnerable and marginalized groups. It also welcomed Malaysia’s assertion that it may reconsider the recommendations it was unable to accept this time, in the future.

Uzbekistan welcomed that Malaysia had accepted so many recommendations, including its own. Those recommendations would strengthen and boost the human rights situation in Malaysia.

Venezuela welcomed with satisfaction the light shown on Malaysia’s commitment to human rights, especially overcoming social inequality through the Government’s transformation programme. Malaysia was commended for its resolve in implementing recommendations from its first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review.

Viet Nam welcomed Malaysia’s efforts to promote diversity and the protection of rights, as well as its constructive engagement during the review cycle and its efforts in accepting and implementing recommendations, including those submitted by Viet Nam.

Yemen welcomed Malaysia’s achievements in the field of human rights and commended the Government for accepting a large number of recommendations, which attested to its commitment to the promotion of all rights.

Algeria congratulated Malaysia for accepting most of the recommendations, in particular the two recommendations presented by Algeria concerning the ratification of human rights treaties and the combat of trafficking in persons.

Botswana commended Malaysia for accepting many recommendations. Botswana noted the introduction of the Government Transformation Programme, aimed at supporting efforts to promote and protect human rights, which demonstrated Malaysia’s commitment to improving the situation of its people.
Brunei thanked Malaysia for its firm commitment to the Universal Periodic Review process and commended it in particular for its initiatives in enhancing the well-being of women, empowering women in the labour force and ensuring the access of citizens to healthcare.

Cambodia said as a fellow ASEAN member Malaysia was commended for its commitment to human rights and was pleased to note its two recommendations had been fully accepted.

China thanked Malaysia for accepting its recommendations on pursuing regional and international cooperation and stepping up the fight against trafficking, as well as enhancing mutual respect among its different ethnic groups while maintaining its diversity.

Cuba congratulated Malaysia on the tangible results it had achieved in the implementation of the recommendations from its first Universal Periodic Review cycle. Cuba highlighted progress made in the areas of education, health, combating poverty, and improving living standards, as well as the rights of women, children, persons with disabilities and indigenous peoples.

Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development was disappointed that Malaysia had rejected recommendations concerning equality, marriage, and marital rape. Even if Malaysia had stated that child marriage had never been a trend, the legal age to marry for Muslim girls was 16.

World Organization against Torture regretted the rejection by Malaysia of the recommendations concerning the prohibition of corporal punishment and the death penalty and that it had refused to ratify some core human rights instruments. Malaysia should immediately establish a commission to investigate police conduct and abuse, and should take immediate steps to abolish the death penalty.

Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative said that COMANGO, a coalition of over 50 civil society organizations in Malaysia, had been declared illegal for their cooperation with the Universal Periodic Review process, even if this decision had been later reversed. Malaysia was in urgent need of an independent police oversight mechanism, which should be promptly established in accordance with the police reform plans.

Dignity International was disappointed that Malaysia had rejected recommendations that would ensure that its law and policies were in line with the Convention on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Dignity International condemned acts of reprisals against members of COMANGO by the Government and non-State actors who acted with tacit Government support.

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development, speaking in a joint statement, regretted that Malaysia had not accepted recommendations on upholding and promoting freedom of religion, as demonstrated by its ban on non-Muslims using the word ‘Allah’. The Forum also regretted the lack of judicial reform, the use of detention without trial and certain repressive laws.

Human Rights Watch regretted restrictions on peaceful and public assembly, as well as a law restricting the printing of publications. Malaysia should engage with the media and civil society to revise that law. The recent conviction of an opposition leader and human rights lawyer for sedition was emblemised of political repression.

Action Canada for Population and Development spoke about Malaysia’s rejection of recommendations to decriminalize same-sex relations, which rejected the right of people with diverse sexuality to live free from stigma, discrimination and violence. Further, the decriminalization of marital rape in law was a gross violation of women’s rights.

Amnesty International voiced concern about attempts to silence critical voices in civil society, and about human rights violations by the police, including torture, death in custody and excessive use of force, which took place with impunity. It expressed deep concern about the use of the death penalty as executions had been carried out in secret and without prior warning.

British Humanist Association noted restrictive legislation in Malaysia concerning the right to religion or belief and the right to freedom of expression. For example, the registration of religion on identity cards was obligatory and only major religions were recognised. The legislation remained the biggest obstacle to the freedom of thought and the Government should implement the Rabat Plan of Action to ensure that those rights were equally enjoyed by all Malaysians.

DATO MAZLAN MUHAMMAD, Permanent Representative of Malaysia to the United Nations Office at Geneva, expressed appreciation to delegations and stakeholders that offered observations and recommendations. All statements made today had been listened to carefully. The active participation and contribution of all partners and stakeholders was appreciated. All comments made and issues raised today would be studied and considered by the Government in the implementation of accepted recommendations. There remained challenges in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country and the Government would continue to take action on improvements in key areas. Certain issues raised by civil society representatives had been addressed in the detailed information contained in the report. In introducing the amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act and the Peaceful Assembly Act, safeguards in accordance with international law had been included. The Government of Malaysia reaffirmed its commitment to cooperate with the United Nations human rights mechanisms, in particular the Special Procedures, and invitations to the Special Rapporteur on the trafficking of persons and the Special Rapporteur on the right to health had been extended. The entire Universal Periodic Review process had been very beneficial to Malaysia and allowed for the evaluation of achievements and challenges. Malaysia remained steadfast in its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights in the country.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Malaysia

Source:  http://www​.ohchr.org​/EN/NewsEv​ents/Pages​/DisplayNe​ws.aspx?Ne​wsID=14414​&LangID=E

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