Suhakam puzzled over Wisma Putra’s handling of UN proposals

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is puzzled why Wisma Putra only accepted 184 recommendations from the United Nations’ Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last November.

In a statement today, Suhakam said Malaysia could have placed itself “in a better position” by accepting most of the 268 suggestions rather than merely “noting” them.

“We are puzzled because many of the recommendations ‘noted’ were in the Pakatan Harapan election manifesto,” it said, referring to the promises to abolish oppressive laws and lead efforts to resolve the Rohingya and Palestine crises.

Suhakam wants some clarity as to how Wisma Putra defines “noted recommendations” in its reply to the UN. It asked if this meant Putrajaya would not be implementing the recommendations before the next UPR review.

“We cannot help but wonder if the foreign affairs ministry is taking a position contrary to the federal government’s promise to its people,” Suhakam said in a statement published on its Twitter page.

On recommendations for Malaysia to accede to international human rights treaties, Suhakam asked for an update on the status of accession to the UN Convention Against Torture. Wisma Putra only “noted” this, it said.

On signing the International Convention on Refugees of 1951, which PH pledged to do in its 14th general election manifesto, Suhakam questioned the decision to similarly “take note”.

On Putrajaya’s decision to only amend or revise certain security laws instead of all as it promised to do before this, Suhakam said this was not good enough and that PH should repeal all Acts, such as the Sedition Act 1948 and the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012.

Wisma Putra rejected recommendations related to the protection of LGBT persons from discrimination and to enjoy fuller human rights. Suhakam said this went against what PH leaders had said in the past.

Gender equality is another area where recommendations were not accepted. Suhakam said it noted the “failure” of Putrajaya to prohibit all forms of female genital mutilation and criminalise marital rape.

It also said it was confused with Putrajaya’s decision not to accept recommendations to review legislation and set the minimum legal age for marriage at 18, despite already committing to this.

“We note that while recommendations pertaining to taking action to combat child marriage was accepted in part, there should be zero tolerance of child marriage enforced at every root (level) of society,” Suhakam added.

Suhakam, however, said it was reassured by the government’s decision to accept recommendations to put an end to the death penalty and place a moratorium on sentencing persons to death.

It also lauded PH for allowing stateless children to go to school so long as one of their parents was a Malaysian citizen.

Suhakam said this provided equal access to quality education for all.