World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Malaysia: Move to outlaw human rights groups

8 January 2014

Malaysia: Move to outlaw human rights groups is an assault on freedom

Today’s attempt by Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs to ban the country’s leading coalition of human rights NGOs is a disturbing assault on the rights to freedom of expression and association, Amnesty International said.

The Ministry alleged that the majority of the 54 groups that make up the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (COMANGO) are “un-Islamic”, lack official registration, and are therefore prohibited.

“Outlawing COMANGO is a deeply disturbing action aimed at silencing important critical voices that have advocated on the world stage for Malaysia to uphold international human rights law and standards,” said Hazel Galang-Folli, Malaysia researcher at Amnesty International.

COMANGO responded to the move by saying that, as a coalition of different NGOs rather than a single organization, it is not bound by the requirement to register under Malaysia’s Societies Act, which dates back to 1966.

The coalition raised the ire of the Malaysian authorities in March 2013 when it submitted a report to the United Nations, ahead of Malaysia being scrutinized under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session late last year.

Its report pointed to a wide range of areas where the Malaysian authorities need to improve their human rights record – not only on freedom of religion and the discrimination of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, but also on the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association. Amnesty International and other non-governmental organizations highlighted similar concerns in recommendations to the UN Human Rights Council last year ahead of its UPR of Malaysia.

“This move seems less about enforcing registration requirements and more about removing a thorn in the side of the authorities. Labelling human rights groups ‘illegal’ only adds to an already long list of human rights violations that Malaysia’s authorities need to remedy, as the UN’s Universal Periodic Review process again highlighted last year,” said Galang-Folli.

Freedom of religion was one of the key issues discussed during Malaysia’s UPR review, with several states making comments and recommendations. A representative of the Malaysian government defended the religious restrictions, saying that they were in the interest of public order.

Although Malaysians adhere to a variety of religious faiths, the Constitution prescribes Islam – followed by more than 60 per cent of the population – as the official religion. But the country’s legal system has its roots in Common Law, and Shari’a law has traditionally only applied to practicing Muslims.

“It is concerning to see the Malaysian authorities increasingly taking their cue from hard-line religious groups and others seeking to silence those who espouse views that differ from their own agenda,” said Galang-Folli.


© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Haiti: $5 Million To Kick-Start Aid In Wake Of Hurricane Matthew

UN emergency fund allocates $5 million to kick-start assistance in wake of Hurricane Matthew More>>


Not Helen Clark: António Guterres Favourite For Next UN Secretary-General

Former Portuguese Prime Minister António Guterres has emerged as the clear favourite to become the next United Nations Secretary-General following the sixth secret ballot held today by the UN Security Council, which is expected to take a formal decision tomorrow and forward Mr. Guterres’ name to the 193-Member General Assembly for final confirmation. More>>


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news