The Coalition of Malaysian NGOs in the UPR Process (COMANGO) regrets the stances and positions adopted by the Pakatan Harapan administration which contradict the promises made in Buku Harapan to uphold the UN standards of human rights in the country.
COMANGO would like to remind the current administration of Promise 26, where Pakatan Harapan (PH) has committed to ‘make our human rights record respected by the world’. This promise includes the strengthening of the existing human rights mechanism such as the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), the ratification of international human rights conventions; and improving Malaysia’s performance on human rights standards are on par with international standard in the Universal Periodic Review.
COMANGO calls on the Pakatan Harapan government to uphold its promises and would like to highlight five key areas which the administration must reconsider its stance and position in line with international human rights standards.
First, the issue of child marriage surfaced again with the recent case where a 11-year-old girl was reportedly married to a 41-year-old man. Malaysia’s State obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) must be fulfilled. The PH government must fully recognise that child marriages have resulted in many human rights violations, especially of the girl child, as numerous research have shown. It is also against the spirit and intention of Malaysia’s Child Act 2001 and the protection promised under the Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.
Second, the crackdown against undocumented migrants under “Ops Mega 3.0” raises substantial concerns with regards to the violation of the rights of migrant workers. Not only were undocumented migrant workers treated as ‘criminals’, documented migrant workers and refugees were equally maltreated as such. Women migrants are particularly at risk of sexual harassment and violence in such operations. The ongoing crackdown violates the UPR Recommendation 146.217 which Malaysia accepted in principle in 2013.
Thirdly, the decision of the Minister for Youth and Sports to cave-in to pressure groups on the appointment of Numan Afifi is in direct opposition of Promise 26, as Numan like any other, irrespective of his sexual orientation, has the right to work, and his appointment should have been defended based on his capacity and merit.
Apart from the above-mentioned issues, there are substantial concerns with the ongoing human rights violations that was initiated by the former administration. Activists who were previously charged under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 continue to face prosecution for their activism; lawyers and civil society activists are still called for questioning, detained and prosecuted for advocating and defending human rights. The most recent example is the pursuit of investigations against Fadiah Nadwa Fikri for exercising her freedom of expression.
We call on the Government of Malaysia to immediately place a moratorium on all laws that have been abused for the political interests of a few, including by pressure groups. We also call for the immediate establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC). Additionally, we encourage the Government of Malaysia to:
1. Ensure the protection and promotion of the universal, inalienable and non-discriminatory human rights for all citizens especially in public spaces.
2. Integrate human rights education based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination at all levels of education.
3. Carry out intense and widespread public and social awareness to promote and instil human rights consciousness and eradicate discrimination on issues of freedom of expression, the right to work and others, as well as towards marginalised groups such as, but not limited to, the LGBT community and migrant workers.
 Adopt more robust measures to protect the rights of migrant workers and temporary workers. UPR recommendation from Germany to Malaysia in 2013.