SUHAKAM applauds government response to UPR
Graphic: Image of the Human Rights Council, Geneva
However, the Commission took issue with comments reportedly made by Malaysian delegates defending the practice of female genital mutilation.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has welcomed the intention of the Malaysian government to pursue human rights reforms following its participation in the Universal Periodic Review.
Malaysia's third Universal Periodic Review, conducted by the UN Human Rights Council, was completed on 8 November 2018, with Malaysia's report adopted on 13 November 2018.
SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Razali Ismail said in a statement that he was encouraged by the approach taken by the government, which he described as "accountable and demonstrative, underpinned by the human rights principles of inclusion and participation of all stakeholders, particularly SUHAKAM."
Razali strongly supported the government's proposal to review past UN recommendations, including acceding to all remaining international human rights treaties.
"SUHAKAM welcomes that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs articulated clearly the new government's intention of reconsidering previously noted recommendations including acceding to all remaining international human rights treaties at this critical period of Malaysia's human rights history," Razali said.
Malaysia has ratified three UN rights treaties: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
Among the treaties left to be ratified are the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination
Malaysia's Foreign Ministry Secretary-General Ramlan Ibrahim also said that the government's moratorium on all executions until the death penalty is abolished is indicative of a "fresh narrative on human rights".
Graphic: SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Razali Ismail talks with reporters
However, SUHAKAM took issue with comments reportedly made by Malaysian delegates to the UPR defending the practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) as a "cultural obligation" in Malaysia.
"The inaccuracy of the Ministry's position in describing FGM as a Malaysia culture has the potential of damaging further Malaysia's international standing on women's rights," Razali said.
He also noted that FGM is "a practice that many Muslim countries have now termed un-Islamic".
"Given the apparent absence of understanding and expertise of human rights among civil servants, SUHAKAM hopes that government officers will be properly trained on human rights especially before representing the country at the Human Rights Council."
Razali said that SUHAKAM will urge the government to submit a mid-term report to provide an update of the commitments it made during the UPR.
"SUHAKAM believes that the cause of human rights in Malaysia Baharu has entered a new era and our collective focus shall now be realisation of promises and implementation, that will need to be free from politicisation.
Date: 15 November 2018
- Image of the Human Rights Council, Geneva - US Mission/Eric Bridiers, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2QkExUA
- SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Razali Ismail talks with reporters - APF/James Iliffe