By Farhana Syed Nokman and Tan Pooi Sze - 15 April 2015 @ 7:24 PM
KUALA LUMPUR: The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) expressed disappointment that the government did not accept the recommendation in the 2013 Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to abolish the death penalty.
“We want to encourage Malaysia to join other countries which have outlawed the mandatory death penalty,” said its chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam at the release of Suhakam's 2014 Annual Report at its headquarters.
“The commission has actively asked for discretionary powers to be returned to the judges in sentencing those convicted for certain drug offences. Under the current laws, the death penalty is mandatory for
serious drug offences.”
Of the 232 recommendations from 104 member states regarding changes to existing laws, regulations and policies, Malaysia accepted 150 and rejected 83.
“We are concerned that this will hinder the country from improving its human rights record as well as from achieving the status of a developed nation,” said the commission's vice-chairman Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee.
Besides the death penalty, the Suhakam Annual Report 2014 also highlighted a few other key human rights issues.
The commission said it was disappointed that the government did not support the six main recommendations on indigenous people's rights particularly regarding their land rights.
Under the freedom of assembly, the commission said that police must understand their role in public assemblies and rallies was only for traffic management and control of crowds.
Suhakam welcomed the government’s decision to develop the nation’s first ever National Human Rights Action Plan (NHRAP).
They, however, expressed concern that the government should ensure that the five core issues the NHRAP raised were realistic, practical and achievable by the target date.
On deaths in police custody, Suhakam said a total of 242 deaths in police lock-ups were recorded, based on statistics provided by the Royal Malaysia Police, between 2000 and February 2014.
In response to the public’s concern regarding this issue, Suhakam has launched a study into the matter and it was due to be completed in 2015.
Suhakam also recommended alternatives to detention for refugee and asylum-seeking children held in immigration detention centres.
Suhakam said these children, who were sometimes unaccompanied, face an increased risk of abuse and ill-treatment when they were detained in the same cell with adults, which was usually the case here.
Suhakam also made several observations regarding some controversial laws. It recommended that the “repressive and obsolete” Sedition Act of 1948 be repealed, and also to strengthen the enforcement of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (ATIPSOM). - New Straiits Times