Embrace human rights


THE Coalition of Malaysian NGOs for the Universal Periodic Review Process (Comango) congratulates Malaysia on successfully securing one of the 18 seats in the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) for the 2022-2024 term.

While the achievement is widely cherished by all, we would like to remind the government that the election in itself is not a reward for having an excellent human rights record at home.

Many countries that are outright violators of human rights are or have been members of the HRC.

Now that the Malaysian government is part of the HRC, we hope that it will fulfil its commitments and pledges as announced before, especially to:

> Take a whole-of-society approach in the promotion and protection of human rights in the country, primarily in the assessment, monitoring and implementation of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) recommendations.

We note that not all government ministries engage with civil society organisations (CSOs). Even within the government, contestation exists between different ministries on how to approach the issue of human rights.

We call upon the government to enable constructive consultation with CSOs on important decision-making processes. The practice of shifting/passing responsibilities must come to an end.> Continue to engage constructively with the HRC, which includes acceding to international core human rights treaties.

Malaysia should not hesitate to adopt international standards into our domestic laws and policies that can enhance our nation’s human rights practice.

> Implement policies and legislation that promote and protect the rights of the most vulnerable groups.

The recent governments seem to be implementing policies that are popular among the majority. We urge the government of Malaysia today and of the future to accept the challenge of executing difficult decisions in ensuring that the marginalised are afforded similar protection of rights as the majority.

> Intensify efforts to promote a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and improve understanding of the effects of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights.

This can be implemented through the plans mapped out in the 12th Malaysian Plan (12MP) with regard to developing Malaysia holistically. A developed nation should not only be measured by the strength of its economy alone.

We, therefore, call upon the Malaysian government to utilise the opportunity of being in the HRC to work together with CSOs to strengthen human rights in our nation.

If the Prime Minister is serious in nurturing a “Malaysian Family”, this is an opportune time for the government to pay attention to the critical voices of CSOs as well as the rakyat who advocate for long-standing issues that have hindered our country’s growth.

It is time for Malaysian political leaders to stand up and speak out against negative and regressive voices that hide and mask themselves in the name of race and religion to limit the scope of human rights application. Human rights should be for all human beings in Malaysia irrespective of any affiliation or identities.

We, the civil society in Malaysia, place high expectations on our government to use its membership of the HRC to make significant improvements and advancements to its human rights track record in its own backyard, even as it seeks to contribute to the human rights dialogue internationally.

Remember, human rights is a cornerstone principle for all and should be upheld by all, especially those in authority.

COALITION OF MALAYSIAN NGOS IN THE UPR PROCESS (COMANGO)

(Comango is one of the biggest civil society coalitions of its kind in the UPR process, comprising 42 organisations that engage in the Universal Periodic Review of the United Nations.)

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