Hakam: Religion, race should not be barrier to uphold human rights

The country’s multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society should not be used as a justification for not protecting human rights. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: The National Human Rights Society (Hakam) said today that a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and multi-cultural society should not be a barrier to a country’s responsibility to uphold human rights.

It said this in welcoming Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s commitment to “ratify all remaining core UN instruments related to the protection of human rights” in his speech in the 73rd United Nations General Assembly yesterday.

“Human rights are innate, inalienable and universal in nature. Religion, race and culture should never be used as a justification for condoning discrimination, injustice and suffering.

“Everyone deserves to be shielded by and to thrive underneath the over-arching umbrella of human rights,” it said in a statement.

Hakam said while it commended the new Malaysia’s principled commitment to human rights at the international stage, it also took note of Mahathir’s concern that it “will not be easy for us because Malaysia is multi-ethnic, multireligious, multicultural and multilingual” and that the government will “accord space and time for all to deliberate and to decide freely based on democracy.”

It urged the government to take immediate steps to ratify all key international human rights conventions including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR); the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; and the UN Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment and Punishment.

The other conventions that should be ratified include the International Convention on the Protection of Migrant Workers and Members of their Families; the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance; and the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Hakam also urged the government to remove all reservations in the international human rights conventions which it has ratified, which include the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC); the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); and The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

“The Malaysian government is not alone in this journey. As long as Malaysia is consistent with its recent stance in the 73rd UN General Assembly, Hakam believes that civil society organisations will wholeheartedly support this endeavour and provide all the assistance they can,” it added.