29 May, 2007

Report fails Pak Lah over human rights

Human rights have regressed and protective systems for such rights have collapsed under Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration in 2006, according to a Suaram report.

Human rights under the “Mr. Nice Guy” - Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration has regressed further in 2006 coupled with alarming collapse of the system and institutions for the protection of human rights, said Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), the leading human rights group during its annual human rights report launch today.

The Malaysia Human Rights Report 2006: Civil and Political Rights is an annual report released by SUARAM to take stock and analyse the human rights developments in Malaysia. The report was launched today at the Cititel Hotel, Kuala Lumpur by two communities who have won the 2006 Suaram's Human Rights Award, the Chin Refugee Committee and the Bukit Jelutong Plantation community.

According to the executive director of Suaram, Yap Swee Seng, the regression of human rights in 2006 are manifested in three regressive trends, namely the growing of the cultures of impunity, religious intolerance and vigilanteism. "If these trends are not checked, they will be detrimental to the protection and promotion of human rights in future," warned Yap.

"First and foremost, the culture of impunity is very prevalent in the law enforcement authorities, especially the police force and the immigration department, that they acted as if they are above the law and untouchable", said Yap Swee Seng, executive director of Suaram.

Yap cited the nine cases of custodial deaths that took place in 2006, a stark increase in comparison to the six cases in 2005. More alarmingly, none of the nine cases in 2006 have had an inquest conducted. There was also not a single policeman has been charged or disciplined for the excessive force and violence used in dispersing protesting crowds against the fuel price hike, toll hike and the forced evictions in Kampung Beremban.

Yap pointed out that systemic impunity continues in the indefinite detention without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA), the Dangerous Drugs Act (DDA) and the Emergency Ordinance (EO). "Despite the call of the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahamd Badawi to the United States to grant the right to trial for the two Malaysians held at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp, we regret that he himself has continued to perpetuate impunity with more than 2,000 people remain incarcerated without trial indefinitely in our own backyards."

The growing of religious intolerance, both by state actors and non-state actors has been highlighted by Suaram as the second worrying regressive trend. Cases documented in Suaram's report, including the suggestion of prohibiting casual greeting of "Deeparaya", by Takaful Malaysia, the denial of the right for non-Muslim to seek redress in a civil court in cases involving both Muslim and non-Muslim such as the case of Moorthy and Subashini, the denial of the right to choose a person's own religion such as in the case of Lina Joy, the violent protests staged by certain groups in stopping a peaceful forum in Penang, and the most serious intolerance being the death threats issued against Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a lawyer that acted in some of these cases defending the right to freedom of religion.

The third alarming regressive trend is the institutionalization of the culture of vigilante. This is especially evident and prevalent in the case of the recruitment of civilian into the People's Volunteer Corp (RELA) and the deployment of these untrained civilians in the hunting down of illegal immigrants in the country with bounty.

"Since the amendment in 2005 that gave powers to RELA to conduct raid on undocumented migrants, the government practically let loose the RELA to run wild with raids conducted almost on a weekly basis in 2006 and generated a stream of non-stop cases of RELA taking laws into their own hands in abusing not only the refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrant workers, but also the local residents and foreign tourists", said Yap.
(Read also Malaysiakini :
"Rela chief: Give us more power")

"Underlying these three regressive trends is the alarming collapse of system and institutions that are designed to check abuses and protect human rights", said the Suaram executive director.

"For example, the internal investigation mechanism by police has failed miserably in bringing corrupted cops to book and addressing the problems of impunity. The failure of conducting inquest on each and every custodial death is the norm of the day rather than exceptions. In the case of religious intolerance, the civil court has generally abdicated from its duty in protecting the right to freedom of religion and leaving the victims in legal wilderness with no protection. In the case of vigilante culture, the government has repeatedly defended RELA despite large numbers of complaints against the RELA."

Suaram said the check and balance systems and institutions must be strengthened if these regressive trends are to be reversed. It calls on the government to set up immediately the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) to end the widespread impunity in the police force and the RELA to be disbanded in preventing the growth of the vigilante culture based on emergency law that has outlived its original purpose. Recommendations and result of public inquiries conducted by National Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM) must be respected and enforced.

"The civil court should not shy away from religious freedom cases and must act to protect the rights of individual to freedom of religion, as entrusted to them under the Constitution," said Yap.

"Clearly, there is a need for a thorough reform of the system and institutions to halt these regressive trends and protect human rights. Abdullah Badawi's government must show greater political will in restoring public confidence in the system and institutions for the protection of human rights, failing which his own credibility would be seriously questioned and the people shall judge him in the coming general election."

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Anonymous Guardian said...

The only ones with any 'rights' in Malaysia are those who 'kowtow' to the Malay,Islam and Umno B.S.
Just take a look at Lina Joy and the rest of the people suffering under this draconian law called Sharia.

Enough said!

May 30, 2007 8:43 AM  

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