PETALING JAYA: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights is concerned by the Home Ministry's recent declaration that the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango) is deemed to be an illegal organisation under the Societies Act 1966.
"We are concerned at what appears to be an act of reprisal against Comango for its engagement with international human rights mechanism, notably the Universal Periodic Review (UPR)," said spokesman Rupert Colville in a statement on Friday.
It has called on the Malaysian Government to amend the Societies Act 1966 and ensure that human rights activists and organisations could conduct legitimate activities without intimidation or harassment, he said.
"The Secretary-General, the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner Navi Pillay have persistently called for the protection of individuals and members of groups that cooperate with the United Nations, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from acts of intimidation or reprisal," he said.
On Tuesday, the Home Ministry deemed Comango an illegal entity as it was not registered with the Registrar of Societies (ROS), with its secretary-general Datuk Mohamad Khalid Shariff saying that only 15 of the 54 organisations in Comango were registered with the ROS.
He had said that organisations that sought to organise legitimate activities in the country must be registered with the ROS under Section 7 of the Societies Act 1966. Any organisation which failed to adhere to the regulations could be penalised under Section 41(1)(b) of the Act.
Mohamad Khalid had said that Comango’s objectives which included fighting for sexual orientation and gender identity rights infringed Islamic beliefs.
Comango ban: Suhakam wants Societies Act reviewed, Bar Council asks for retraction