By Robin Augustin (FMT)
| May 20, 2016
Reporting a decline in freedoms such as freedom of expression and religion, Comango urges government to honour its commitment to the UN’s recommendations.
PETALING JAYA: The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango) is concerned with the regression of human rights in the nation.
At a press conference on its midterm Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process report, the group, made up of 54 NGOs, revealed its assessment of 60 measurable recommendations out of the 113 recommendations accepted by Malaysia in 2014.
The UPR report details United Nations member state’s performance in relation to the implementation of human rights recommendations it has accepted based on recommendations of other countries.
In its midterm report, Comango revealed that only 20% of the 60 recommendations had been fully implemented, while 57% of the recommendations have seen a regressing situation.
Areas which have seen a regression are freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, freedom of religion, elections and migrant workers among others.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy highlighted the increased use of the Sedition Act 1948 for political reasons as one of the examples in which freedom of expression had regressed.
“Additionally amendments to laws such as the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 may stifle freedoms.”
In the case of freedom of assembly and association, Sevan said the government had not taken steps to raise standards of press freedom, and that press freedom had been affected by the blocking of websites.
On the issue of women’s rights, Women’s Aid Organisation Advocacy Officer Lainey Lau said that while progress was being made, the government was still too slow to develop or amend laws to protect women.
This, she said, included a law against marital rape, which countries such as China, Hong Kong, Lesotho and Albania already had.
Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM) activist, Rizuan Tempek, meanwhile, lamented the negligible protection of indigenous peoples’ land rights, with land grabs and encroachment cases still being reported.
Comango said it was not too late for the government to honour its commitments in relation to the recommendations it accepted and urged the government to do so, as well as work with civil society groups in the process.
The group also urged the government to translate its obligatory five year report into Bahasa Malaysia and disseminate it to the public.
Every five years, UN member states are required to submit their UPR report, while non-governmental organisations and rights groups are encouraged to submit shadow reports.
Governments are not required to submit mid-term assessments.
Also at the press conference were representatives from Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower),Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat ( Komas ) and The Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham).