KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 — Malaysia voted in favour of a United Nations resolution to protect human rights activists worldwide at the general assembly yesterday, even as civil society leaders back home kick up a storm over a raft of reforms on politics, socio-economics and elections.
Malaysia was one of the 117 countries that gave its nod, amid a global crackdown on civil societies in several countries.
“117 Member States voted yes on the resolution, entitled ‘Recognising 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,” the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders said in a statement, commending the UN for getting the resolution passed.
The group added that the resolution would be an “important tool” to offer protection to human rights activists that have been “unjustly targeted” for their work.
In recent years, Malaysia has come under fire for the government’s harsh treatment towards local civil societies, such as electoral reform group, Bersih 2.0.
The Malaysian government taken court action against several prominent activists, including Bersih 2.0 chairman, Maria Chin Abdullah, for organising the Bersih 4 rally last August, which sought to exert pressure against the administration of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to carry out political and electoral reforms.