Executive Summary SUARAM Annual Human Rights Report 2016 – BM Version

RINGKASAN EKSEKUTIF

Semasa kerajaan yang ditekan berusaha untuk menepis kritikan-kritikan antarabangsa mengenai skandal 1MDB sepanjang tahun 2016, pelanggaran hak asasi manusia berterusan. Isu penahanan tanpa perbicaraan masih membimbangkan sementara kejadian penembakan polis meningkat secara mendadak. Kebebasan bersuara amat tersekat manakala kebebasan berhimpun telah dirampas oleh kumpulan neo-fasis yang tidak dihalang oleh kerajaan. Kebebasan bergerak bagi sekalangan rakyat Malaysia telah ditarik menurut perintah kerajaan persekutuan dan negeri sementara kebebasan beragama diancam oleh rang undang-undang ahli persendirian mengenai hudud di parlimen. Sementara itu, pilihanraya yang bebas dan adil terancam oleh suatu proses penyempadanan semula yang sedang berjalan, yang tampak seperti suatu tindakan penentuan sempadan dan penyalahbahagian. Komuniti LGBTIQ masih ditentang dan diganggu oleh pihak berkuasa agama negeri, tanah adat orang asli masih dicerobohi oleh pembalak yang diberikan kebenaran oleh pihak berkuasa negeri manakala golongan pelarian dan pencari suaka masih dibebankan oleh ancaman gangguan dari agensi penguatkuasaan.

Kes-kes penahanan di bawah SOSMA dan POCA yang direkodkan masih bertambah pada tahun 2016. Sepanjang tahun 2016, SUARAM telah merekodkan 189 kes penahanan di bawah SOSMA. Berbanding dengan tempoh yang sama pada tahun 2015, SUARAM merekodkan kurang daripada 50 kes penahanan di bawah SOSMA. Beberapa kes yang melibatkan penggunaan POCA yang didedahkan pada tahun 2016 membangkitkan kerisauan mengenai penggunaan POCA terhadap penjenayah kali pertama. Walaupun POCA sering digunakan terhadap ‘jenayah terancang’, dalam beberapa kes yang dilaporkan, ia telah digunakan terhadap jenayah-jenayah yang tidak berkaitan dengan jenayah terancang atau sindiket. Melalui suatu persidangan mengenai Akta Majlis Keselamatan Negara di Kuala Lumpur, penggunaan POTA pada tahun 2016 turut didedahkan. Walaupun jumlah penahanan di bawah POTA agak rendah, perlu diingati bahawa suspek pengganas boleh dan masih ditahan di bawah POCA.

Walaupun terdapat sedikit pengurangan dari segi jumlah kes-kes seksaan dan layanan buruk oleh Polis DiRaja Malaysia, beberapa kes berprofil tinggi yang didakwa melibatkan keganasan dan siksaan polis didedahkan pada tahun 2016. Tambahan pula, amalan ‘reman bersambung’ kekal berterusan, dengan kes-kes yang serius dilaporkan oleh SUARAM pada bulan Mac, April, Mei, Jun dan Julai 2016. Sebelum jawapan Parlimen diberikan pada Mac 2017, hanya terdapat dua kes kematian dalam tahanan polis yang diketahui umum. Jawapan Parlimen tersebut telah mendedahkan bahawa sekurang-kurangnya 15 individu telah meninggal dalam tahanan polis pada 2016. Sejurus dengan peningkatan mendadak kematian dalam tahanan polis, kejadian penembakan polis semakin bertambah dalam beberapa tahun kebelakangan dengan 57 kes kejadian penembakan polis di mana 54 kematian dilaporkan.

Kebebasan bersuara masih dikekang oleh kerajaan Malaysia. Perkembangan positif pada tahun 2016 adalah pada pengurangan mendadak dalam penggunaan Akta Hasutan 1948. Malangnya, pengurangan dalam penggunaan Akta Hasutan disusuli oleh beberapa sabitan dan kegagalan dalan cabaran perlembagaan. Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 telah menjadi senjata utama Kerajaan untuk menyekat ketidakpersetujuan dan kritikan pada tahun 2016 dengan lebih daripada 30 kes dilaporkan dan lebih daripada 60 penyiasatan dilaksanakan pada separuh pertama tahun 2016 sahaja. Akta Mesin Cetak dan Penerbitan 1984 (PPPA) tetap menjadi halangan kepada kebebasan bersuara dengan penambahan buku-buku ke dalam senarai penerbitan yang diharamkan. Pada tahun 2016, penerbitan agama yang ‘sesat’ adalah mangsa-mangsa utama PPPA. Gerakan sosial Bersih sekali lagi menjadi mangsa kepada PPPA pada tahun 2016 apabila penganjur konvoi Bersih ditangkap di Sabah pada tahun 2016.

Terdapat lebih kebebasan berhimpun di Malaysia pada tahun 2016 dengan jumlah penahanan yang amat berkurang dalam perhimpunan aman. Walaupun gangguan kerajaan tidak seteruk tahun-tahun sebelumnya, penganjur dan peserta masih diganggu oleh siasatan polis terhadap jenayah yang tidak wujud. Kebangkitan kumpulan neo-fasis ‘Baju Merah’ menimbulkan kerisauan baru berkenaan kebebasan berhimpun di Malaysia. Kerajaan nampaknya telah menyumberluarkan gangguannya kepada pihak-pihak bukan kerajaan seperti ‘Baju Merah’ yang telah bertindak ganas untuk menyebabkan kekacauan kepada konvoi Bersih dan membuat ancaman terhadap Bersih dan kakitangan media.

Sekatan terhadap kebebasan bergerak di Malaysia amat ketara semasa pilihanraya negeri Sarawak pada tahun 2016 apabila satu senarai panjang ahli-ahli politik pembangkang dan aktivis-aktivis hak asasi manusia telah dihalang dari memasuki Sarawak semasa tempoh berkempen. Beberapa individu sayap kanan yang mengundang kontroversi dari Semenanjung Malaysia juga dihalang daripada memasuki Sarawak. Maria Chin telah dihalang daripada bergerak semasa beliau mencuba untuk berangkat dari Malaysia untuk menerima Anugerah Gwangju bagi Hak Asasi Manusia 2016. Beliau dilaporkan telah dihalang daripada bergerak kerana ‘merendah-rendahkan’ kerajaan di luar negara. Seorang menteri mencuba untuk menjustifikasikan tindakan kerajaan dengan mendakwa bahawa kebebasan bergerak adalah keistimewaan dan bukan hak.

Bagi kebebasan beragama, isu penukaran agama oleh seorang ibu atau bapa sahaja kekal sebagai suatu isu tanpa sebarang penyelesaian dalam masa terdekat di Malaysia. Pindaan undang undang yang dijanjikan oleh kerajaan Malaysia yang sepatutnya membantu keluarga-keluarga yang terperangkap dalam pertikaian undang-undang mengenai penukaran agama oleh seorang ibu atau bapa sahaja masih belum dibentangkan setakat pada 31 Oktober 2016. Kumpulan agama minoriti yang dianggap ‘sesat’ masih terancam sepanjang tahun 2016 dengan pengharaman penerbitan oleh PPPA dan penahanan individu-individu yang dituduh merupakan pengamal syiah. Isu rang undang-undang pindaan Hudud yang mengundang kontroversi kembali menjadi berita utama di Malaysia selepas Kerajaan Malaysia menyokong pembentangan rang undang-undang ahli persendirian Parti SeIslam Malaysia. Walaupun parti komponen dalam pakatan pemerintah sendiri terang-terang mengkritik tindakan oleh kerajaan tersebut, tiada sebarang tindakan nyata yang telah dilaksanakan untuk menangguhkan rang-undang-undang itu. Walaupun pakatan pembangkang tampaknya menolak pindaan yang dicadangkan, parti komponen AMANAH turut mencadangkan deraf pindaan terhadap rang undang-undang PAS yang penuh kontroversi.

Pilihanraya bebas dan adil sekali lagi menghadapi ancaman serius pada tahun 2016. Semasa pilihanraya kecil yang diadakan pada tahun itu, kesalahan pilihanraya oleh ahli-ahli politik dari pihak kerajaan dan pembangkang adalah yang tertinggi dalam rekod. Setakat pada 31 Oktober 2016, Bersih telah mengutarakan kebimbangan mengenai tindakan penentuan sempadan dan penyalahbahagian di banyak kawasan pilihanraya.

Bagi Undang-Undang dan Kehakiman di Malaysia, beberapa cabaran perlembagaan yang mampu membawa kesan besar di Malaysia kekal tidak terjawab pada tahun 2016. Undang-undang seperti Akta Perhimpunan Umum 2012 masih belum diselesaikan dengan keputusan-keputusan mahkamah rayuan yang bertentangan. Usaha terakhir Anwar Ibrahim untuk membuat rayuan terhadap hukumannya di Mahkamah Persekutuan telah didengari pada Oktober 2016 dan ditolak oleh Mahkamah Persekutuan pada 14 Disember 2016.

Isu-isu Jantina dan Seksualiti kekal bermasalah pada 2016. Terdapat sedikit peningkatan bagi kesamarataan jantina di Malaysia. Komen-komen bersifat seksis masih dibuat sewenang-wenangnya oleh ahli politik dari pihak kerajaan dan pembangkang. Komuniti LGBTIQ masih ditentang pada tahun 2016 dengan peningkatan dalam kes-kes penahanan dan gangguan yang dilaporkan. Penganiayaan komuniti tersebut oleh pihak berkuasa agama di negeri-negeri di seluruh Malaysia berterusan dengan ruang yang sangat sedikit atau tiada ruang bagi perbincangan atau interaksi yang bermakna.

Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (SUHAKAM) tidak mampu bertindak sehingga Jun 2016 selepas terma pesuruhjaya-pesuruhjaya SUHAKAM yang sebelumnya tamat pada April 2016. Kelambatan dalam pelantikan pesuruhjaya-pesuruhjaya baru dan pengurangan dana pada tahun 2015 memberi tanggapan bahawa kerajaan menghukum SUHAKAM atas pembelaan hak asasi manusia pada tahun 2015. Walaupun begitu, bajet baru bagi tahun 2017 membolehkan bajet SUHAKAM dikembalikan kepada peruntukan terdahulu iaitu sebanyak RM10 juta. Sejurus selepas pelantikan, pengerusi yang baru telah mengeluarkan penyataan yang melanggar nilai-nilai hak asasi manusia yang diiktiraf dan mengundang kritikan dari masyarakat sivil. Setelah itu, pengerusi yang baru dilantik telah mengambil pendirian baru yang lebih bersesuaian dengan hak asasi manusia dan memberikan sokongan jelas dalam banyak isu yang selaras dengan nilai-nilai hak asasi manusia antarabangsa.

Kesusahan orang asli di Malaysia bertambah teruk pada tahun 2016 dengan cabaran baru yang dihadapi oleh komuniti di Kelantan sementara pembalak yang dibenarkan oleh kerajaan mengancam untuk memusnahkan kediaman dan cara hidup mereka. Dalam suatu usaha terdesak, komuniti orang asli di situ telah membina sekatan dan meminta agar kerajaan negeri membuat perundingan bagi mendapatkan penyelesaian yang dikehendaki oleh pihak komuniti. Selain itu, warga orang asli mendapat kejayaan apabila mahkamah membuat pemutusan mengenai hak mereka atas tanah adat. Suatu kemenangan penting bagi orang asli dikecapi dengan pembatalan Empangan Baram di Sarawak pada Mac 2016.

Bagi golongan pelarian dan pencari suaka, keengganan kerajaan Malaysia untuk mengiktiraf hak mereka bermaksud bahawa mereka kekal di bawah ancaman berterusan dan didedahkan kepada eksploitasi sistemik. Dalam beberapa kes, ancaman yang dihadapi oleh golongan pelarian dan pencari suaka adalah daripada kerajaan Malaysia sendiri. Layanan yang ketara berbeza diberikan terhadap pelarian Syria pada tahun 2016 apabila seorang menteri menyatakan bahawa pelarian dari Syria diterima di Malaysia bukan sebagai pelarian tetapi sebagai migran.

Hukuman Mati masih merupakan pelanggaran hak asasi manusia yang serius di Malaysia pada tahun 2016 dengan 9 kes pelaksanaan hukuman mati dilaporkan oleh Menteri Undang-Undang di Parliman. Daripada 9 kes ini, hanya empat kes diketahui umum. Setakat pada tahun 2016, terdapat lebih dari 1,000 banduan yang mendapat hukuman mati dengan tiada sebarang harapan pengampunan.

Kenyataan media SUARAM – Pelancaran Laporan Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia SUARAM 2016

Suaram melancarkan Laporan Tahunan Hak Asasi Manusia 2016 pada 6 Jun 2017 bagi menarik perhatian umum tentang pencabulan hak asasi pada tahun 2016 dan mengiktiraf perjuangan dan pengorbanan pembela hak asasi (human rights defenders) dalam perjuangan memperkasakan demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia di Malaysia. Walaupun dengan tekanan kuat diberikan oleh organisasi hak asasi dan komuniti antarabangsa, pencabulan hak masih lagi tidak berkesudahan dan makin merosot.

Sepanjang tahun 2016, SUARAM mendapati kerajaan Malaysia meneruskan penggunaan Akta Kesalahan Keselamatan (Langkah-langkah Khas) 2012 (SOSMA), Akta Pencegahan Jenayah 1959 (POCA), Akta Penjegahan Keganasan 2015 (POTA), dan Akta Dadah Merbahaya (Langkah-langkah Khas) 1985 (DDA) untuk menahan seseorang tanpa bicara; Pejuang Hak Asasi seperti Aktivis Bersih 2.0 Maria Chin Abdullah dan Mandeep Singh, telah ditahan kerana peranan mereka di dalam menganjurkan perhimpunan aman; keganasan polis, penyalahgunaan kuasa daripada pihak berkuasa dan kecuaian telah menyumbang kepada lebih daripada 300 kematian banduan semasa berada di dalam tahanan polis, penjara, atau pusat tahanan imigresen.

Sorotan Utama pada 2016 termasuklah:

(1) Kerajaan meneruskan penggunaan Akta Hasutan 1948, Akta Komunikasi dan Multimedia 1998 (CMA), dan Akta Rahsia Rasmi 1972 (OSA) masih disalahgunakan oleh pihak pemerintah untuk menahan, menganiaya, dan mendakwa rakyat yang dikatakan melawan ataupun mencabar pemerintah manakala penangkapan dibawah CMA bagi komen-komen sosial media berlaku hampir setiap minggu.

(2) Akta Perhimpunan Aman 2012 telah digunakan untuk menahan dan menyiasat rakyat yang merancang, menghadiri atau berucap di demonstrasi aman. Insiden perhimpunan awam yang ketara termasuk aktivis-aktivis dipanggil untuk memberikan kenyataan semasa Konvoi Bersih dan Bersih 5; wakil daripada jawatankuasa penganjur bagi Sambutan Hari Pekerja yang dipanggil untuk memberi kenyataan; dan penahanan penganjur protes komuniti dibawah seksyen 186 kanun keseksaan

(3) SUARAM menerima laporan tentang penyeksaan dan pelbagai layanan tidak berperikemanusiaan ataupun layanan yang bertujuan untuk menghina orang tahanan. Antara kes yang dipantau dan diterima SUARAM termasuk, keganasan seksual oleh anggota polis di Jinjang, tuduhan penderaan fizikal keatas Dato R. Sri Sanjeevan; dan penyeksaan secara sistematik melalui kurungan berasingan dan penafikan keperluan asas terhadap puan Maria Chin semasa beliau ditahan dibawah SOSMA.

(4) Penahanan secara arbitrari terhadap individu yang disyaki sebagai anggota kongsi gelap di bawah SOSMA dan POCA melonjak sepanjang 2016; dan ‘pemanjangan’ penahanan melalui proses memindahkan tertuduh diantara SOSMA dan POCA memberikan kerajaan kuasa untuk menahan seorang individu sebanyak 88 hari tanpa dibicarakan.

SUARAM menggesa kerajaan Malaysia untuk mengambil langkah proaktif untuk melindungi hak asasi di Malaysia seperti yang dijamin di dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan Malaysia dan Deklarasi Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Undang-undang yang bertentangan dengan piawaian hak asasi manusia antarabangsa mesti dimansuhkan segera dan mangsa yang telah dianiaya di bawah Akta Hasutan, CMA, Akta Perhimpunan Aman 2012 dan undang-undang drakonian lain harus debebaskan serta merta! Kegagalan untuk memenuhi tanggungjawab kerajaan untuk mempertahankan hak asasi manusia akan menjejaskan kedudukan Malaysia sebagai anggota komuniti antarabangsa dan menjadikan usaha Kerajaan ke arah Majlis Hak Asasi Manusia sebagai sebuah sandiwara dan mngaibkan Malaysia dan rakyatnya dalam arena antarabangsa.

 

Dalam Solidariti,

Sevan Doraisamy
Pengarah Eksekutif,
SUARAM

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Press statement by SUARAM on the Launch of the 2016 SUARAM Human Rights Report on Malaysia

SUARAM launched its 2016 Human Rights Report Overview on the 6th June 2017 to call attention to the human rights violations in 2016 and the struggle that human rights advocates face in their fight for democracy and human rights in Malaysia. Despite growing pressure from human rights organizations and the international community, the gradual deterioration of rights continues unabated.

 

Over the course of the year, SUARAM found that the Malaysian government expanded its use of the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA), Prevention of Crime Act 1959 (POCA), Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 (POTA), and Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 (DDA) to detain individuals without trial. Prominent human rights defenders, such as Maria Chin Abdullah and Mandeep Singh of Bersih 2.0, were arrested for their role in organizing a peaceful protest and police brutality, the abuse of power by enforcement agencies and negligence resulted in the deaths of more than 300 prisoners who were in police custody, prison, or immigration detention.

 

Key highlights in 2016 include:

 

(1) The government continued to use the Sedition Act 1948, Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA), and the Official Secrets Act 1972 (OSA) to arrest, persecute, and prosecute citizens who spoke out against the government with arrests under CMA occurring on a weekly basis.

 

(2) The Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 was used to detain citizens who planned, attended or spoke at peaceful protests. Human rights activists were called for questioning, regardless of the scale of the assembly. Notable incidents included the countless activists who were called in for statements during Bersih Convoy and Bersih 5, the representative of the organizing committee for the May Day celebration who was called for questioning, and the organizers of community protests who were arrested.

 

(3) SUARAM received reports about torture and other inhumane or degrading treatment from detainees. Notable cases included the case in Negeri Sembilan, the sexual assault by officers at Jinjang, the alleged physical abuse against Dato R. Sri Sanjeevan, and the solitary confinement and deprivation of basic necessities during Maria Chin’s detention.

 

(4) The growing arbitrary detention of individuals for organized crime under SOSMA and POCA and the ‘extension’ of detention through transfer between SOSMA and POCA which effectively grants the government upwards of 88 days of detention without trial continues into 2017.

 

In the light of these egregious human rights violations, SUARAM urges the government to take proactive steps to protect human rights in Malaysia as outlined in our Federal Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Laws that fail to comply with international standards of human rights must be abolished immediately and victims persecuted under the Sedition Act, CMA, Peaceful Assembly Act 2012 and others draconian laws must be discharged immediately! Failure to fulfil its human rights obligations will only damage Malaysia’s standing as a member of the international community and turn Malaysia’s bid to the Human Rights Council into a farce and further shame the country and its people.

 

In Solidarity,

Sevan Doraisamy
Executive Director
SUARAM

SUARAM Human Rights Report Overview 2015

SUARAM launched its Human Rights Report 2015 Overview in conjunction with the International Human Rights Day which falls on the 10th December 2015.

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Suaram Human Rights Overview 2015 – [Download]
Bahasa Malaysia Executive Summary – [Download]

It noted that 2015 marks the beginning of a new dark age for Human Rights in Malaysia. Throughout the year, SUARAM observed the increasing political crackdown against dissenters and civil activists such as, Zunar, Khalid Ismath, Eric Paulsen, Maria Chin, Arutchelvan, Jannie Lasimbang, YB Sivarasa and many more. These human rights violations that took place in 2015 were not limited to politicians and civil activists but extended to various vulnerable groups in Malaysia.

In the myriad of human rights violations that were documented in 2015, SUARAM highlighted six worrying trends:

1. The rapidly shrinking space for dissent in 2015 rivals that during the dark days of the Internal Security Act 1960. With the exposure of the 1MDB Financial Scandal and the fallout that resulted from the revelations, the Government of Malaysia under Prime Minister Najib Razak opted for the widespread use of the Sedition Act 1948 and the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 against politician and civil activists. The Government of Malaysia also actively took steps to criminalize and harass organizers and participants of public protests and rallies that took place in 2015. The draconian manner in which the Government cracked down on political dissent is eroding what is left of our democratic institutions and setting Malaysia on a clear path to tyranny.

2. With the security threat posed by the Islamic State and other terror cells, Malaysia has introduced more legislation that undermines civil liberties in Malaysia. From the introduction of Prevention of Terrorism Act 2015 to the passing of the National Security Council Bill, the executive of Malaysia now holds unprecedented powers purportedly to ‘maintain peace and security’ in Malaysia. With the abuse of power (affirmed by the use of SOSMA against Khairuddin Abu Hassan and Matthias Chang), many have voiced their concerns against these legislations. On this note, SUARAM have documented 46 cases of detention under SOSMA in 2015 and notes that hundreds more have been detained under the Prevention of Crime Act 1959.

3. The situation faced by refugees and victims of human trafficking continue to deteriorate without any government intervention. With the mass graves discovered in May and August and the rejection of refugee boats by the Government of Malaysia, it was surprising that the United States decided to upgrade Malaysia’s standing in their human trafficking report.

4. Gender discrimination remained at an all-time high with little to no concrete steps taken to rectify the situation. From ill-thought out jokes to crude and debasing slurs uttered in Parliament by representatives from the Government, it has reinforced the perception that the Government of Malaysia is not sincere in fulfilling their obligations under Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

5. Indigenous peoples of Malaysia continue to suffer from various human rights violations. With the introduction of various ‘mega’ projects and deforestation for commercial purposes by various corporations, land grab is a common occurrence in the indigenous tribes’ customary lands. General apathy of relevant government agencies remains prevalent and was reflected in the various plights including but not limited to the case of 7 missing children in Kelantan; the poor condition of the transit centre in Gua Musang and the health problem suffered by the Jahai Tribe in Perak.

6. After the months of secrecy, the terms of TPPA were finally made public. With the wide reach and the monumental impact posed by TPPA, it is unconscionable for the Government of Malaysia to sign the TPPA without conducting a Human Rights Impact Assessment to evaluate the potential consequences posed by the TPPA. Further, with the increasing influence of corporations in Malaysia, active steps must be taken to ensure that these corporations comply with international human rights standards.

SUARAM urges the Government of Malaysia to take proactive step in safeguarding the human rights for all and take effective step to cease and desist with the human rights violations taking place in Malaysia and provide due remedy for those that have suffered as a result of the human rights violations. Laws that are incompatible with recognized international human rights listed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Bill of Rights must be repealed immediately.

We call on the government to be accountable to the people and to place human rights and democracy on top of any government and political agenda. Anything less would undoubtedly jeopardize the future generation of Malaysians and lay waste the sacrifices made by our forefathers.

Photos:

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Suaram: Heightened intolerance towards dissent (The SUN- 21 july 2010)

Suaram: Heightened intolerance towards dissent
By Karen Arukesamy

KUALA LUMPUR (July 21, 2010): Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) lamented that the government has “yet to respond” pro-actively despite numerous recommendations made by human rights NGOs. Its 2009 Human Rights Report launched today, highlighted several key trends in declining human rights last year.

It cited perceived abuses of power by law enforcement agencies, heightened intolerance towards dissent and resistance to reform, and greater respect for human rights.

“With the massive arrests by the police over peaceful protests and street demonstrations, the freedom of speech, expression and assembly have been seriously undermined in the country,” said Suaram director Dr Kua Kia Soong.

Kua said while the government had agreed to review the Internal Security Act (ISA), it has ignored two other detention-without-trial laws – the Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act – despite their similarities with the ISA.

Other laws like the Sedition Act, Official Secrets Act, and Section 27 of the Police Act also remain firmly in place, undermining the civil liberties, the report said.

Among others, the report noted that there were eight deaths in custody – seven in police custody and political aide Teoh Beng Hock’s death while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Besides that, 88 people were shot dead by police in 2009 with not a single police officer known to be held accountable for any of those deaths.

Suaram documentation and monitoring coordinator John Liu, who presented the report, said this was a high number considering there were only 13 such cases in 2007, according to official sources.

“These cases continue to occur at an alarming rate in 2010, including the case of 15-year-old Aminulrashyid Hamzah, who was shot dead by police on April 26 in Shah Alam, and on July 5, four robbers were shot dead by police in Pahang,” he said.

“ Malaysia’s refusal to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture despite being repeatedly urged to do so shows the government accepts torture as a form of punishment,” Liu said. — theSun

Press release: 21 July 2010

Press release: 21 July 2010

SUARAM’s 2009 Human Rights Report:
Najib’s First Year as PM Tarnished by Culture of Impunity, Heightened Intolerance, and Resistance to Change

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) released its “Malaysia Human Rights Report 2009:
Civil and Political Rights” in Kuala Lumpurtoday, 21 July 2010.

SUARAM’s report highlights several key trends in human rights in 2009, including: (1) the increasingly serious and repeated cases of abuses of power by the police and law enforcement agencies with impunity; (2) the heightened intolerance towards dissent; and (3) the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s resistance towards reform and greater compliance with human rights standards.

1. Increasingly Serious and Repeated Abuses of Power by Law Enforcement Agencies At its launch, SUARAM noted the serious and repeated abuses of power – not only by the police, but now increasingly rampant in other law enforcement agencies, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

SUARAM also noted that there were at least two international reports published in 2009, exposing the collusion of Immigration Department authorities in the trafficking of refugees to the Malaysia-Thailand border.

8 Deaths in Custody in 2009
In 2009, there were 7 deaths in police custody, according to official statistics. Another death occurred in the custody of the MACC on 16 July 2009, when Teoh Beng Hock, an aide of a politician from the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP), fell from the 14th floor of the MACC building when he was there for questioning by the Commission.

While deaths in police custody have been a major problem in previous years, this was the first time that a death occurred in the MACC’s custody. Still, the MACC has also had a tarnished record in the past. In 2007, SUARAM documented the case of a man who died three weeks after being brutally assaulted during an interrogation by officers of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), as the anti-corruption body was then known.

The recent case of alleged torture of former Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) officer Tharmendran by military intelligence officers in connection to the theft of two jet engines is a manifestation of the systemic problem of torture, abuse of power and culture of impunity in the country. Tharmendran claimed that he was
hit with a golf stick, forced to strip and stand on a block of ice to an hour at a time, and threatened with death.

The fact that Malaysia has to date refused to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Torture (CAT) despite being repeatedly urged to do so only goes to show that the government accepts torture as a form of punishment in this country!

88 People Shot Dead by the Police in 2009
Equally as worrying are the cases of deaths caused by police shooting, which have occurred rampantly with impunity. 88 people were shot dead by the police in 2009, with not a single police officer known to be held accountable for any of those deaths. The high number of deaths caused by police shootings in 2009 is
indeed alarming, considering that there were only 13 such cases, according to official sources, in 2007.

These cases continue to occur at an alarming rate in 2010, including in the case of 15-year-old Aminulrasyid who was shot dead by the police on 26 April 2010when he was in a car in Shah Alam, Selangor. As recent as 5 July 2010, another case was reported, where four suspected robbers were shot dead by the police at the
residence of an executive councilor of the state of Pahang.

2. Heightened Intolerance towards Dissent
In 2009, there were mass arrests of participants of public peaceful assemblies in numbers which significantly exceeded those in previous years, signalling the government’s increasing intolerance of dissent. Close to a thousand people were arrested by the police for various acts of peaceful protest, including by holding candlelight vigils, wearing black and even participating in a hunger strike!

Close to a Thousand Arrested during Peaceful Assemblies in 2009 In May alone, 167 people were arrested in relation to protests against the unconstitutional takeover by the BN of the Perak state government. On 1 August 2009, 589 people, including minors, were arrested during the massive anti-ISA rally in Kuala Lumpur– possibly the greatest number of persons arrested in a single public assembly in recent years.

Opposition and Critics of the Government Targeted for Harassment
Opposition politicians, critics of the government and media (both of the opposition and independent ones) have also been attacked and harassed, using repressive laws such as the Sedition Act and the Printing Presses and Publications Act throughout 2009 despite the initial show of commitment towards free speech by Najib Razak when he announced the lifting of the ban on opposition mouthpieces Suara Keadilan and Harakah on the very first day of his premiership.

Freedom of speech and expression, especially that of opposition politicians and critics of the government, has become one of the most seriously and frequently violated human right in Malaysia, and this trend has continued in 2010. Mouthpieces of the opposition political parties – Suara Keadilan, Harakah, and Rocket – were all given show-cause letters in the month of July in 2010.

3. BN Government’s Resistance to Change, More than a Thousand Still Detained
without Trial
Despite the continued momentum of demands for change and better compliance with human rights principles, the BN government has continued to resist change. Despite growing calls for the ISA to be abolished, for example, the government has continued to detain people without trial throughout the year.

At the end of the year, there were nine ISA detainees still incarcerated without being tried in the courts, while more than a thousand people were still being held under the two other detention-without-trial laws, the Emergency Ordinance and the Dangerous Drugs Act.

Even recommendations made by commissions set up by the government, for example the Royal Commission on the Police and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), have mostly failed to be implemented by the government to date.

Malaysia’s human rights record was reviewed by the international community under the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review. During this review, the Malaysian government received numerous recommendations from United Nations member states to improve its human rights record, including by abolishing all detention-without-trial laws, respect freedom of expression, and recognise the status and rights of refugees. However, most of the more substantial of these recommendations were not accepted by the Malaysian government.

This reluctance to heed the international community’s calls, nevertheless, did not stop Malaysia from seeking election into the United Nations Human Rights Council in May 2010.

4. Increasing Human Rights Awareness: Biggest Anti-ISA Demonstration Yet
Despite the increase in human rights violations in 2009, SUARAM nevertheless noted the rise in human rights awareness in the country. This was perhaps most evident in the biggest ever anti-ISA demonstration held in Kuala Lumpur on 1August 2009, which was attended by more than 30,000 people. Encouraged by the
groundswell of popular calls for change, SUARAM stressed that it will continue to work towards keeping up this momentum with the aim of improving the situation of human rights in the country.

5. SUARAM’s Report Launch Gives Voice to Victims of Detention without Trial
Continuing its tradition of giving voice to victims of human rights violations, SUARAM invited Mat Sah Satray (former ISA detainee, 2002-2010) and the parents of Jagendran Panir Selvam (a minor who was detained without trial under the Emergency Ordinance from January to March 2010, and is currently held under
restricted residence) as guest speakers at the launch of its report.

6. Demands Reiterated
Based on the testimonies of violations provided by Mat Sah and the parents of Jagendran, as well as documentation of numerous cases in previous years, SUARAM strongly urged the government to repeal all detention-without-trial laws, pointing out that these legislations severely violate fundamental human rights.
SUARAM also reiterated several other longstanding demands to the government including:

1. The immediate setting up an independent and effective oversight monitoring body to ensure accountability in the police force and other law enforcement agencies;
2. The repeal of repressive legislations and/or provisions in laws which undermine freedom of speech, expression and assembly, namely the Printing Presses and Publications Act, the Official Secrets Act, the Sedition Act, and Section 27 of the Police Act;
3. The recognition of the status and rights of refugees and asylum seekers;
4. The ratification of all remaining core international human rights treaties, noting that Malaysia has only ratified two of the nine core treaties – and even so, with reservations; and
5. The strengthening of SUHAKAM’s independence and effectiveness, and the implementation of the Commission’s recommendations.

In response to the increasingly serious human rights abuses and the heightened intolerance towards dissent and opposition as witnessed in 2009 and 2010, SUARAM noted that it will also heighten its role as a watchdog of the BN federal government as well as both the BN and Pakatan Rakyat state governments, and further warned that failure to heed the increasingly popular calls for human rights compliance would result in the unpopularity and eventual downfall of any government in power.