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Friday, 27 November 2015


PROHAM congratulates the Malaysian government for voting “yes” recently on the UN Resolution entitled “Recognising the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection”. It is encouraging to note that Malaysia was among the 117 member states which voted yes and not among the 14 which voted no and a remaining 40 which abstained.

This action by Malaysia at the global stage is in the right direction towards the promotion and protection of human rights however PROHAM calls on the Government to do much more in enlarging the space for civil society organisations and human rights defenders domestically in Malaysia. Fostering a human rights culture and compliance based on United Nations instruments and standards especially by all the enforcement agencies is of utmost importance.

In this context PROHAM reiterates its earlier call that the Federal Government must ratify all the core human rights conventions especially the Convention on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention against Torture and also the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination.

In addition PROHAM calls on the Federal Government to establish a Parliamentary Select Committee on Human Rights which will undertake bipartisan review and action in the promotion and protection of human rights which will include the review of the Suhakam annual report and all other human rights reports and issues.

Finally, PROHAM encourages all Federal Government agencies to be more open to civil society and human rights defenders by hosting regular dialogues, participating in civil society discussions. Engaging NGOs on policy and delivery matters especially in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next 15 years will further enhance cooperation and collaboration as partners in SDG.

Released on behalf of PROHAM by Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria (PROHAM Secretary General)
Nov 28, 2015


UNGA passes resolution on the protection of human rights defenders

Thursday, 26 November 2015 / Alexandra POMEON O’NEILL /Director of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders

(Geneva, New-York, Paris) The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (a joint FIDH-OMCT programme) commends the passing of a United Nations General Assembly resolution on the protection of human rights defenders in the Third Committee yesterday. At a time when human rights defenders have come under increasing pressure amidst a growing crackdown on civil society in many parts of the world, this resolution is more important than ever.

117 Member States voted yes on the resolution, entitled “Recognizing the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection,” calls for accountability for attacks on human rights defenders (including attacks on their family members) and urges states to release defenders who have been arbitrarily detained for exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association. Norway, as the main sponsor of the resolution, faced many challenges in the negotiation phase with some States, notably members of the African Group, attempting to significantly weaken the text. Nevertheless, Norway and the co-sponsors of the resolution, resisted pressure and delivered a strong text.

While normally adopted as a consensus resolution, this year China and Russia asked for the resolution to be put to a vote. Fourteen States voted no on the resolution (China, Russia, Syria, Burundi, Kenya, Myanmar, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, North Korea, South Africa, Iran, Pakistan, and Sudan).

“It is no accident that many of these States have poor records on the their treatment of human rights defenders, including Burundi which recently suspended 10 NGOs this week and promotes acts of violence against defenders. It remains however problematic that some of these opponents include democracies such as South Africa, which owes its anti-apartheid struggle and its beacon Constitution to a solid civil society movement”. Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

“The fact that the resolution was not adopted by consensus reinforces our concerns about the shrinking space for civil society organisations and human rights defenders across the globe. Now more than ever it’s essential that all of us who are supportive of independent civil society join our voices to defend not only the legitimacy of their work but also to reaffirm how essential it is for any society wanting to advance human rights and the rule of law”Gerald Staberock, Secretary General of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT).

Just before the vote, Norway also urged States not to abstain, which would represent a failure to recognize the role of human rights defenders and the need for their protection. Overall, 40 States abstained (Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bolivia, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, CAR, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ecuador, Egypt, Eritrea, Fiji, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Oman, Qatar, Swaziland, Tajikistan, Togo, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen).

FIDH and OMCT, as well as their member organisations, will continue to stand up for human rights defenders across the world who have been unjustly targeted owing to their human rights work. This resolution will serve as an important tool for their protection.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Two International Covenants on Human Rights - a year-long campaign 2016

Three members of the UN Commission on Human Rights in conversation before a meeting on the Draft Covenant on Human Rights was continued. Left to right: Dr. Charles Malik (Lebanon), Professor RenĂ© Cassin (France), and Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt (United States). Behind them are United States advisers, Ms. Marjorie Whiteman and Mr. James Simsarian. 
UN Photo/MB

Human Rights Day is observed 
every year on 10 December.

It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50thanniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.
The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.
"Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always." aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms -- freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear -- which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago.

Facts and Figures about the two Covenants

The two Covenants are legally binding treaties for the States that are parties.
168 States are party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights today.
164 States are party to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today.
The two Covenants were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and entered into force in 1976, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified them.
Each of the Covenants is monitored by a committee of experts, who review the progress of States parties to the treaty. They also hear individual complaints and assess if States need to remedy the situation.
Along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two Covenants form the International Bill of Human Rights. which sets out the rights that are the birthright of all human beings.
For more information, please see:
For more this year's theme and the year-long campaign, see the website of the UN Human Rights office.

Human Rights Day 2015 - Program



9.00 – 9.30 am
Arrival of Guests
9.30 – 9.40 am
Poetry Performance by children
9.40 – 9.50 am
Welcoming Remarks
Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, SUHAKAM
9.50 – 10.10 am
Opening statement
YB Senator Datuk Paul Low Seng Kuan, Minister in the Prime Minister’s
Department in charge of Governance, Human Rights and Integrity
10.10 – 10.30 am
Refreshments / Coffee

Panel Discussion:
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms as a Foundation for an Inclusive Future

10.30 – 12.15 pm

Moderator: Wan Saiful Wan Jan, Chief Executive, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs IDEAS (TBC)

1.       Anderson Selvasegaram, Executive Director of SUKA Society

2.       Francis Johen, Commissioner, SUHAKAM (PWD)

3.       Nisha Ayub, Project Manager, SEED Foundation

4.       Shanti Dairiam, Former member of the UN’s CEDAW Committee, Member, WAO

5.       Syed Saddiq, Student and University Lecturer , IIUM (TBC)

6.       Yusri Ahon, COAC President (Orang Asli community in Pahang): NB. will need an interpreter from Malay to English. (TBC)

12.30 – 13.30 pm
Refreshments / Lunch
13.30 – 13.40
Afternoon remarks
Ms Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, United Nations Resident Coordinator;
UNDP Representative for Malaysia, Singapore & Brunei Darussalam,
UNFPA Representative for Malaysia
13.40-16.00 pm
Afternoon of diverse programme:
·         UN agencies contributing: UNICEF; booth
·         Exhibition booths: Bar Council, Suhakam, GMM
·         A human library by SCOPE Group

Tuesday, 17 November 2015



2.30 - 4.30 p.m., 30th November 2015

Boardroom, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS Malaysia)
Kuala Lumpur
1.       Introduction by Datuk Dr. Denison Jayasooria (KITA-UKM & PROHAM) & Dr. Hezri Adnan (ISIS Malaysia) as Co-chairs of the meeting
2.       The Role of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Monitoring the SDGs: Perspectives from the United Nations by Ms.Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative for Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei Darussalam
3.       Overview Presentation on “Monitoring the SDGs” by Alizan Mahadi (ISIS Malaysia)
4.       Roundtable discussion on the Role of CSOs in monitoring the SDGs
5.       Conclusion and way forward by Co-chairs
For further enquiries, kindly contact

ISIS Malaysia Technology, Innovation, Environment and Sustainability (TIES) division, Mr. Alizan Mahadi
Tel +6
03-2693 9366 / +6010 231 8042 Email

Monday, 9 November 2015

Proham calls on Government not to restrict the protection of human rights by cutting Suhakam’s fundings

PROHAM expresses shock over the drastic cut in Suhakam’s budget by 50% from RM10, 986,200 to RM5,509,400. This is unacceptable and could be constructed as giving human rights work low priority by the Federal Government. We recognise that Suhakam has been vocal on human rights issues especially in the promotion and protection of human rights

Proham calls on the Federal Government to ensure that Suhakam is adequately funded to carry out its duties as stipulated by the Suhakam Act (597). In clause 19 (1) it reads “the Government shall provide the Commission with adequate funds annually to enable the Commission to discharge its functions under this Act”. There is a restriction in clause 19 (2) stating that “the Commission shall not receive any foreign funds”. However the Commission could receive funds for awareness and educational work as indicated in clause 19 (3).

With the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals and commitment to a human rights approach to development and ecological sustainability the Prime Minister who is also Finance Minister must recognise that RM10 million annual budget is relatively small compared to the millions being spent on so many other aspects of federal government expenditure. 

Therefore as a clear mark of commitment to Human Rights in Malaysian society the government is urged to restore Suhakam to its full allocation as previous years.

Issued on behalf of Proham by Secretary General, Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria
Nov 10, 2015

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Announcing 2015 Human Rights Day Speech Contest for Law Students

2014 Human Rights Speech Contest 

In conjunction with 2015 Human Rights Day


Date: Dec 8, 2015

Venue: Asia Brickfields College, PJ Campus

The global community has adopted a global 2030 agenda for the next 15 years with 17 goals and 169 targets. Malaysian Prime Minister was one among the 150 world leaders who agreed on this on Sept 25, 2015 at the UN headquarters in New York.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) now has become a collective journey of both developed and the developing countries of the world. While there is a strong emphasis on economic and social development it is now balanced with a commitment for sustainable management of natural resources in a just and equitable way. The global tag line is “no one will be left behind” meaning that everyone irrespective of gender, age, ethnicity, and geographical location, political or religious association- all are include. This is built on a firm commitment to human rights.

We therefore welcome law students to participate in the 2015 Human Rights Speech contest. 

Email BAC and request for the Speech Contest guidelines.

For further details please email: