UN rights experts press for visit to M’sia following Bersih crackdown

Source: Malaysiakini

Four UN special rapporteurs for human rights have asked Malaysia when it intends to accept their long-standing request for a visit to ensure compliance with international standards.

In a statement today condemning the crackdown on local human rights activists and dissenters, particularly Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, the human rights experts reminded the government they had made these requests since 2011.

“Special rapporteurs Maina Kiai and David Kaye recalled their pending requests to visit Malaysia, sent in 2011 and 2013, and 2014 respectively.

“We hope the government will respond positively to these long-standing requests, with a view to ensuring that the state’s legislation and practices comply with international human rights norms and standards”, said the rapporteurs.

They expressed concern particularly over the use of the Security Offences Special Measures Act 2012 (Sosma) as setting a “troubling precedent”.

“Although (Maria) has now been released, the detention of a prominent woman human rights defender under Sosma sets a troubling precedent, by suggesting that democratic participation can be a threat to national security,” they said. Read more

UN experts call on Malaysia to stop targeting human rights defenders under national security legislation

Source: UN OHCHR

GENEVA (9 December 2016) – Malaysia must protect all of its human rights defenders instead of targeting them under national security legislation, said today a group of United Nations human rights experts*.

Their call comes after weeks of heightened pressure on BERSIH 2.0 – a coalition of civil society organizations campaigning for clean and fair elections – and the organizers of the Bersih 5 rally, held in three cities across Malaysia on 19 November 2016.

“We are particularly concerned at the arrest of Maria Chin Abdullah, the Chairperson of BERSIH 2.0, on 18 November 2016 and her subsequent detention under the Security Offences Special Measures Act 2012 (SOSMA),” the experts said.

SOSMA specifically states that no individual will be arrested under the law for ‘political activity’ or ‘belief’ and that its use is strictly restricted to matters pertaining to public order and national security. Read more

Bersih foreign funding probe selective and baseless — Ambiga Sreenevasan

Source: Malaysiakini

BY AMBIGA SREENEVASAN

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan is the latest activist to be questioned by cops over foreign funding from US billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. — Picture by Choo Choy May

Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan is the latest activist to be questioned by cops over foreign funding to Bersih 2.0 from US billionaire George Soros’s Open Society Foundation. — Picture by Choo Choy May

The ongoing investigations into foreign funding of Bersih and other NGOs under Section 124C of the Penal Code is selective and baseless.

Bersih has at all times been transparent about its funding and its accounts. We have always made it clear that Bersih received funds from Open Society Institute (OSI) in 2011 in the sum of US$25,000 and from the National Democracy Institute (NDI) in the sum of US$9,690. Both sums were used in election-related projects.

These allegations are not new. As a result of a suit filed by Bersih and other NGOs in 2012, the New Straits Times issued an apology to Bersih and other NGOs in November 2013 for their baseless allegations of a plot to destabilise the government by using funds allegedly received in the amount of RM20 million.

All the documents relating to the funds received by Bersih were filed in court in that suit.

The repeated accusation that there is a conspiracy of sorts to topple the government makes no sense when Bersih’s primary demand since its inception, has been for free and fair elections and for strong institutions.

Every activity of Bersih is geared towards these demands. Workshops and training are organised. Voters’ rights are promoted. Representations are made to the EC. Election observers are trained. Peaceful assemblies are organised. Sometimes Bersih has had to go to court.

These are all legitimate activities permissible under the law carried out by Bersih and supported by the endorsing NGOs. Read more

NGO slams Putrajaya’s ‘empty’ Sosma assurances

Source: FMT News

EMPOWER president, Janarthani Arumugam fears the raid on its office will not be the last time Sosma is used against human rights defenders.

EMPOWER president, Janarthani Arumugam fears the raid on its office will not be the last time Sosma is used against human rights defenders.

KUALA LUMPUR: Assurances by the government on the proper use of the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, or Sosma, are empty promises, said EMPOWER president, Janarthani Arumugam.

“We fear the raid on our office will not be the last time Sosma is used against human rights defenders,” she added in a statement.

EMPOWER stands for Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor.

Sosma was supposed to be used for terrorist-related offences.

The NGO condemned the police raid on its premises, “and the interrogation of staff, without legal representation”, and “the attempts to tarnish its work”.

“There’s no law that forbids civil society organisations from receiving funds, whether local or foreign,” said Janarthani. “All funds received are based on objectives and activities under our Constitution.”

In fact, she said, her NGO had submitted annually all documents required by the Registrar of Societies, in reporting on yearly activities. “This includes audited financial reports.”

Janarthani said that EMPOWER’s efforts were out there for the world to see. “We are about securing equality and democracy for all, especially for women and marginalised communities.” Read more