While the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (Comango) is happy to note the positive change in the overall tone by the Malaysian delegation in the recent Universal Periodic Review, the coalition is mindful that the challenge lies in the legislation and implementation of the recommendations made at the review.
The Comango team in Geneva, Switzerland, led by co-secretariat member Rizal Rozhan, said, “The recommendations on human rights defenders, protection of minority groups – children, persons with disabilities, LGBT, indigenous people – are encouraging. The ball is now in Malaysia’s court to accept all these recommendations.”
The third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review for Malaysia concluded with a laundry list of things to do by the Pakatan Harapan government.
While Malaysia has reiterated its commitment to all remaining conventions, UN member states pressed the government for clear timeframes for the ratification. UN member states also recommended for Malaysia to withdraw all reservations for the conventions that it has already signed up to, namely the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
According to Ryan Chua from Komas, “The reiteration by the Malaysian government to commit itself to espouse the principles promoted by the United Nations is highly commendable. It is now time for us to take our ‘new mature democracy’ to newer heights where international norms become something regular to Malaysia.”
Majidah Hashim from Sisters in Islam says that the government should see the recommendations made as a validation of Pakatan Harapan’s mandate, which should accelerate its implementations. “Over ten countries called for Malaysia to step up efforts to raise the marriageable to 18 for all children. This shows that PH is moving in the right direction by ending child marriage, but we’d like to see PH move quicker without conditions on this matter.”
Other PH plans that are aligned with UPR’s recommendations are to:
- abolish the death penalty
- place a moratorium on bad laws such as the Sedition Act, the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA), the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 and the Prevention of Crime Act
- enact a gender equality bill
- review the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and Printing Presses & Publication Act 1984
Nevertheless, a number of items remains unaddressed altogether.
Honey Tan from Empower wondered why the government didn’t commit to a timeline in filing a report to the committee on the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, was ratified in 2008.
She also urged the government to criminalise marital rape as recommended by several countries during the review.
Comango was formed by over 50 civil society organisations in 2008 to engage in the UN’s Universal Period Review. Empower acts as co-secretariat for Comango, with Suaram.