In action plan, Putrajaya wants human rights balanced with Islam

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, March 12 — The United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) should not be the sole benchmark for human rights, the Malaysian government said in its National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP).

Putrajaya said the blueprint towards guaranteeing Malaysians’ human rights was developed with four main references in mind: The Federal Constitution, the UDHR, Malaysian politics and socio-culture and the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam (CDHRI).

“In the context of Malaysia, the human rights issue especially those involving the role of religion, ethics and culture must be tackled parallel to Islamic teachings and the Federal Constitution.

“Otherwise, it would erode a life of religion and bring about moral ruin among the society,” it said in the plan, under a section detailing the framework of human rights in the country. Read more

Pushing the principles of non-discrimination

Source: Daily Express

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah has what it takes to inspire the Malaysian Government to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The State is already a shining example of racial and religious harmony in the country but human rights bodies believe that the State Government can take it one step further by implementing the principles of non-discrimination in the administration of the State.

A close-door roundtable discussion, jointly organised by Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (Komas) and Suhakam, was held on Thursday, which aimed to engage stakeholders in the State Government to promote the implementation of the ICERD principles.

Organisers hoped the engagement could be treated as a commitment by the State Government to present itself a model government in eradicating race-based politics and reduce racial discrimination in Malaysia.

Malaysia is one of 15 out of 175 United Nations member countries that are not yet party to the ICERD, including North Korea, Myanmar and a dozen authoritarian countries.

Of the seven UN treaties, Malaysia has ratified three, namely the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (CRPD).

Suhakam, however, believes that the country is ready to ratify the ICERD, although it has had to deal with many issues concerning racial and religious discriminations. Read more

Malaysia should drop charges and release Bersih organisers and supporters — Human rights groups

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 21 — The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Fortify Rights, Human Rights Watch, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), and Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), acting as international observers of the Bersih 5 rallies and related events, are calling on the Malaysian authorities to drop all charges against the Bersih organisers and activists. The authorities should return all items confiscated from the Bersih offices and stop making further arbitrary arrests in connection with these events. We consider these arrests to be violations of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (or in Malay “Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil”), otherwise known as Bersih (which means “clean” in Malay), is a coalition formed in 2006 by Malaysian non-governmental organisations calling for free, clean, and fair elections. Since its founding, Bersih has organised four previous peaceful assemblies. These public assemblies have attracted support from thousands of Malaysians throughout the country and among Malaysians living abroad. In the past year, Bersih faced harassment from multiple sources, including the Malaysian Government, which has leveled charges against Bersih and its chair Maria Chin Abdullah for organising and participating in peaceful activities.

To date, four Bersih organising committee members and more than 20 pro-Bersih supporters are currently facing a range of criminal charges, including under Section 124(c), 147, 153 and 511 of the Penal Code and the Sedition Act. The arrests were made in the lead up to and after the Bersih 5 rallies that took place on November 19, 2016 in Kuala Lumpur and other locations in Malaysia. Read more

Adequate housing dilemma in Malaysia: A human rights perspective — Dr Shahrul Mizan Ismail

Source: The Malay Mail Online

BY DR SHAHRUL MIZAN ISMAIL

SEPTEMBER 18 — The recent proposal by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister to allow housing developers to give loans to potential house buyers has caused quite a stir among the netizens in social media. Not only has it invited comments and criticisms, but also quite a number of new ideas and alternative proposals to resolve the issue. Not many would know however, that the right to adequate housing is actually a recognised universal human rights, classified as the second generation of human rights, which was first embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948.

Rice

Article 25 (1) states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services…” The Declaration is not a binding treaty but was signed by all member states of the United Nations. Read more

Freedom of speech: Responsibility and accountability

Source: Business Mirror

THE Internet has changed not only the way we obtain our news, but also how people react to that information. Those who obtain their daily news from online newspapers and from social media know that a person can make comments on the news articles.

Online readers both read the news and the comments to see the reactions. Netizens have at least once made a comment on these articles and it has definitely made it easier to exchange views or see the general sentiment as we read along.

Those who read their articles have also encountered comments from users that are offensive, rude, degrading and humiliating. Largely anonymous, these users often post derogatory and deplorable comments on articles as a response either to the article or to other users. Since comment sections are largely uncensored, individual comments can contain expletives, below-the-belt insults and, at worst, threats.

As a response to this, one prominent local online news outfit has changed its policy on commenting. In an effort to make the news web site a “safe place” for users, the comment sections will be heavily moderated, and crude and disrespectful comments will be deleted.

This move has been largely criticized by online users. Invoking the concept of freedom of speech, they argue that such move is tantamount to censorship and suppresses the right of users to express their opinions freely. Users also fear that such heavy-handed measure allows news sites to censor dissenting opinion and label them as “offensive”.

Read more

Let ‘terror suspects’ face fair trial, says group

Source: FMT

PETALING JAYA: A lobby group has called for “terrorism suspects” to face a fair trial and for the release of all those being detained without trial under various detention orders.

This included the 15 people arrested last week for investigations into the grenade bombing of a nightspot in Puchong, in which eight people were injured.

The organisation, Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (MADPET) , said detention without trial was against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

MADPET spokesman Charles Hector said a foreign newspaper report had said that more than 160 people suspected of having ties to the Islamic State network had been detained in Malaysia in the past two years. Read more

Constitutional solutions must be at forefront of all human rights concerns, Centhra urges

Source: The Malay Mail Online

The Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra) has urged the newly appointed members of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) to have due regard for the provisions stipulated in the Federal Constitution in exercising their functions, particularly in the human rights areas concerning freedom of religion and equality, as well as freedom of speech, assembly and association.

Centhra also drew their attention to Section 4(4) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 (Act 597), which states that “they shall have regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) insofar as the same does not contradict the Federal Constitution”.

“This would mean that efforts to further human rights based on the UDHR in Malaysia cannot go against national principles stipulated by our apex law,” Centhra Chief Executive Azril Mohd Amin said in a statement yesterday.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the appointment of former diplomat Tan Sri Razali Ismail as Suhakam chairman and Professor Datuk Dr Aishah Bidin, Francis Johen anak Adam, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, Datuk Godfrey Gregory Joitol, Dr Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Salleh, Jerald Joseph and Datuk Lok Yim Pheng as its new members for the 2016-2019 period. Read more

Refugees’ right to work – Aslam Abd Jalil

Source: The Star Online

BY ASLAM ABD JALIL

MALAYSIA is not a state party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and so it does not recognise refugee status or provide rights for refugees, including employment rights.

Despite that, refugees have been working in the informal sector all this while to survive, and Malaysian authorities turn a blind eye. They are mostly unskilled labourers who work in 3D sectors. There are also refugees with professional qualifications.

Without employment rights, refugees are often exploited and abused. The issue of employment rights for refugees also affects employers who hire them.

In 2013, the Malaysian Government announced that it would issue work permits and provide training for refugees living in Malaysia, but this plan did not materialise.

Recently, the Home Minister again announced that thousands of Rohingya who have been granted refugee status by UNHCR would be able to take up employment opportunities in sectors that are “appropriate, safe and easily monitored by the authorities” through a pilot project.

There are articles and sections in existing Malaysian laws, and the international conventions and declarations that Malaysia signed, that are supposed to make it legal for refugees to gain employment rights.

Both citizens and non-citizens are entitled to rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution. This includes the right to be engaged in lawful and gainful employment.

Article 8 (1) of the Federal Con­sti­tution says that “All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law”. Read more

Extend right to work to all – Aslam Abd Jalil

Source: NST Online

BY ASLAM ABD JALIL

I REFER to the letter “Give  jobs to locals instead of refugees” (NST, March 21). I would like to correct some points raised by the writer.

ON allowing refugees to work: It is an effort to weed out those who hold fake United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards.

This mechanism can help because the records of refugees will be tallied with their work permits. However, it is more than this. Allowing refugees to work means they will no longer be employed illegally or work in “black market”.

Work rights for refugees are a violation of the country’s laws: Section 55 of the Immigration Act 1959/63 gives discretionary power to the home minister to allow a class of people to enter this country and it has been used a few times. IMM 13 permits were issued before to the Moro, Acehnese and Rohingya refugees to allow them to stay and work. In fact, the Muslim Chams from Cambodia were accepted and integrated into local society.

WHAT about locals who are jobless?: There are many factors that contribute to unemployment among Malaysians. Blaming refugees and migrants of stealing jobs is simplistic and xenophobic. Refugees whom I’ve met said they were willing to take up 3D (dirty, dangerous and demeaning) jobs.

In fact, refugees are already working in informal sectors. It’s a matter of legalising for better regulation and protection. Read more

Amnesty: Regional solution needed for refugee problem

Source: FMT News

Amnesty International Malaysia Report for 2015/2016 talks about initial reluctance of Malaysia and Indonesia to assist boat people.

Amnesty International logoPETALING JAYA: Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines must come up with a regional solution to the refugee problem, says Amnesty International Malaysia director Shamini Darshni.

“Each country has different laws when it comes to people on the move arriving in our countries. If a regional solution is not going to be discussed, there is not going to be a solution,” she said of the hesitation by Malaysia and Indonesia to accept inbound refugees last May.

Speaking to reporters here after the launch of Amnesty International Malaysia’s Report for 2015/2016, Shamini noted that the Philippines was very quick to react last year, but Malaysia and Indonesia had not followed suit in their readiness to accept inbound refugees. Read more