Downward spiral? Malaysia’s limits on human rights in line with UN charter, foreign minister says

Source: The Malay Mail Online

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 7 — The allegation that Malaysia’s human rights record is on an alarming downward spiral is unwarranted as it is based on unsubstantiated and selective information, says Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman.

He said it was unfortunate that Amnesty International was too fast in judging Malaysia’s human rights record on the basis of misconceptions of the circumstances of recent events.

“It failed to give due credit to recent and ongoing efforts by the Government of Malaysia in the promotion and protection of human rights for its citizens.

“It also failed to acknowledge the progress that Malaysia is making in the promotion and protection of the rights of women, children and persons with disabilities in Malaysia as well as in fulfilling the economic, social and cultural rights of its citizens,” he said in a statement, here, today.

Amnesty International secretary-general Salil Shetty, at the conclusion of the 16th International Anti-Corruption Conference last week said Malaysia’s human rights record was on an alarming downward spiral.

Anifah said it was necessary to point out that the government had been steadfast in its commitment to uphold the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined in Articles 5 to 13 of the Federal Constitution.

He said the government remained committed to uphold the right to freedom of opinion and expression, and the right to freedom of assembly as guaranteed in Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia.

“However, it is important to note that the exercise of such rights is not absolute and may be subject to limitations on certain grounds, including public order, morality and national security.”

Anifah said such limitations were in consonance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular its Article 29 (2).

He said the application of the Sedition Act 1948 did not hinder a vibrant democracy and remained as a useful preventive measure to ensure and protect Malaysians from radical, extreme and fanatical movements, apart from curbing religious intolerance, and incitement to hatred, racial and religious extremism.

In terms of refugees or asylum seekers, Anifah said although Malaysia did not recognise their status, the country had been providing assistance on humanitarian grounds and continued to cooperate on a case-by-case basis with the UNHCR and other relevant international organisations.

He said Malaysia emphasised that it had taken necessary measures on humanitarian grounds, beyond its international obligations, in addressing the influx of irregular migrants.

“In addition, Malaysia has taken serious action in curbing trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, and remains committed to working with other relevant partners to address this problem through the various existing international and regional mechanisms,” he said.

On the international front, he said Malaysia continued to place a high importance on contributing to the promotion and protection of human rights in the multilateral fora, in line with its standing as a responsible state actor.

He said every sovereign country rightfully deserved the full respect to decide on what was best for its society.

“The government is committed to the protection of all its citizens, and will take necessary steps to ensure that every citizen enjoys fundamental freedoms in a manner which does not impinge on the exercise of the rights of others, or is a threat to the security and safety of the nation,” he said. — Bernama


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