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APF continues NHRI leadership support program

Graphic: Monitoring staff from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia

The APF has held an online dialogue with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia to discuss their work, priorities and challenges during COVID-19.

The APF recently held an online dialogue with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) to discuss their work and priorities as part of a program of virtual engagement with APF members during COVID-19

The Leadership Solidarity Outreach program is also an opportunity for our member institutions to identify areas where the APF can provide support or advice to assist them in their efforts to uphold human rights during these unprecedented times.

"Virtual discussions, like the Leadership Solidarity Outreach program, are a practical way we can support our members by discussing current human rights challenges and NHRI operations," said Pip Dargan, APF Principal Adviser, Capacity Assessments and International Engagement.

"These virtual sessions are very important in maintaining institutional and personal relationships and in continuing to understand our members' needs."


Our members want to stay in regular contact with the APF during COVID-19, particularly as our face-to-face meetings have been suspended due to the pandemic.

Pip Dargan, APF secretariat

SUHAKAM's Secretary, Dr Cheah Swee Neo, and senior officers advised the APF that the institution's top priority has been responding to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable groups within the community.

This has included holding community dialogue sessions with migrants, refugees, indigenous people and the urban poor, among others, to better understand the human rights issues they have been facing.

Following each consultation, SUHAKAM released a statement to outline its findings and propose recommendations to ensure fair treatment for all during the pandemic.

SUHAKAM also noted that consultations with women's groups had highlighted a significant rise in domestic violence since lockdown measures were introduced in March, as well as deepening gender inequality and discrimination in other areas of life.

A major policy brief – COVID-19 and Women's Human Rights in Malaysia – was finalised by SUHAKAM in July.

This information was also shared with the APF for a new publication – The Impact of COVID-19 on Women and Girls – which draws on the experiences of nine NHRIs in the region.

SUHAKAM is currently developing a new strategic plan for 2021-2025. It is likely that a number of the issues it has responded to during COVID-19, and the ways in which it has been working, will be reflected in the new strategic plan.

The APF's Guide to Strategic Planning for National Human Rights Institutions was a timely and useful resource, SUHAKAM said.


Graphic: SUHAKAM Commissioner Jerals Joseph talks with two men on a rural road


As part of the Leadership Solidarity Outreach program, the APF secretariat will schedule regular calls with the Chairperson – or another high-level representative – of every member institution that wishes to take part.

The agenda for the calls can be general or specific, depending on the preference of the NHRI. It might, for example, include issues relating to the operation of NHRIs during the pandemic or requests for specific APF support or advice.

In addition to SUHAKAM, the APF has held consultations with the NHRIs of Bahrain and the Philippines.

The Leadership Solidarity Outreach program will continue while COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place, at which time the APF's regular face-to-face capacity development activities will resume.

Date: 16 July 2020


Image credits

  1. Monitoring staff from the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia - SUHAKAM
  2. SUHAKAM Commissioner Jerals Joseph talks with two men on a rural road - SUHAKAM