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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Human rights not 'western' notion, says Suhakam


Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) today reminded the nation that human rights is a universal concept that applies to all, and is not merely a "western" concept.

In its message ahead of Human Rights Day this Wednesday, Suhakam chief Hasmy Agam stressed that every individual deserves the internationally accepted rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) document.

"On this Human Rights Day, the commission also wishes to dispel the notion that human rights  are western driven, and reiterates the universality concept of human rights as enshrined in the  Charter of the United Nations.

"Most importantly, human rights are founded on respect for the dignity and worth of each individual," he said.

Hasmy reiterated that once ratified, the principles in the UDHR is binding on participating countries.

"Therefore the commission takes the view that, once ratified or acceded to, the legality or  applicability of international treaties should no longer be raised as an issue," he said.

Local pressure groups aligned to the ruling government have often raised objections to the application of human rights to marginal groups such as the gay and transgender community (LGBT) and to matters related to Islam.

In particular, the idea of according rights and protection to the margninalised LGBT community is usually blamed as a "western" idea and groups that have lobbied for such rights such as the coalition Comango have been demonised.

Hasmy elaborated, "The commission wishes to remind all concerned that although the UDHR is not a binding  instrument, it has nevertheless branched out to become conventions and legally binding treaties.

"The UDHR was proclaimed as a 'common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations", towards which individuals and societies should 'strive by progressive measures,  national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance'.

"It is customary international law that upon ratification, the state is obligated by international  law to implement and comply with all of the provisions of the treaty, unless expressly reserved," he added.

He said this year's theme for the document adopted in 1948 is 'Human Rights 365'.

"This is to emphasise the notion that every day should be a human  rights day, and that human rights are inalienable entitlements of all," he said.

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