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Engaging the media as a human rights ally

Graphic: Participants take part in a workshop activity

Thirty participants from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia took part in a two-day program to bolster their strategic engagement with the media.

A group of 30 participants from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) recently took part in a two-day program that sought to bolster their strategic engagement with the media.

Involving Commissioners, senior managers and staff, the sessions identified strategies that SUHAKAM could take to develop "media friendly" resources that present human rights issues in clear and compelling ways for journalists.

They also took part in a series of mock crisis scenarios, planning how they would respond to a sensitive issue that had generated negative "front page" news coverage and then preparing a spokesperson for a media interview filmed on camera.

Participants also worked collaboratively through a series of key questions to develop the foundations for a media crisis strategy that could be activated in those situations when it is required.


This 60 second video, filmed on a smartphone and produced for a social media post, records the release of SUHAKAM's 2016 Annual Report on 4 April 2017.


Storytelling was another focus for the workshop, which was held in Kuala Lumpur on 5-6 April 2017.

"Across all forms of media, storytelling is the dominant narrative of our times," said APF Expert Communications Consultant James Iliffe, who facilitated the workshop.

"To build public awareness and support for their work, national human rights institutions need to collect and share powerful stories that connect with others and bring human rights issues to life."

A series of discussions and activities looked at how to develop engaging content for SUHAKAM's social media platforms - currently Facebook and Twitter – drawing on examples provided by national human rights institutions from across the Asia Pacific.

The discussions were designed to support the development of a social media strategy for SUHAKAM that would help them to engage directly with the Malaysian community and build a growing base of human rights supporters in the country.

Date: 13 April 2017


Graphic: Chairperson of Malaysia's NHRI conducting a media interview

Media Handbook for National Human Rights Institutions

The Media Handbook provides practical advice for NHRIs on engaging the media and using social media to start conversations on human rights issues.


Image credits

  1. Participants take part in a workshop activity - APF/James Iliffe