SUARAM’s Stakeholder Report for Malaysia 3rd Universal Periodic Report is now available!
Dear members of the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate,
dear members of the IAP,
In the run-up to the annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) in Beijing, China, the undersigned civil society organisations urge the IAP to live up to its vision and bolster its efforts to preserve the integrity of the profession.
Increasingly, in many regions of the world, in clear breach of professional integrity and fair trial standards, public prosecutors use their powers to suppress critical voices.
In China, over the last two years, dozens of prominent lawyers, labour rights advocates and activists have been targeted by the prosecution service. Many remain behind bars, convicted or in prolonged detention for legal and peaceful activities protected by international human rights standards, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Azerbaijan is in the midst of a major crackdown on civil rights defenders, bloggers and journalists, imposing hefty sentences on fabricated charges in trials that make a mockery of justice. In Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkey many prosecutors play an active role in the repression of human rights defenders, and in committing, covering up or condoning other grave human rights abuses.
Patterns of abusive practices by prosecutors in these and other countries ought to be of grave concern to the professional associations they belong to, such as the IAP. Upholding the rule of law and human rights is a key aspect of the profession of a prosecutor, as is certified by the IAP’s Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors, that explicitly refer to the importance of observing and protecting the right to a fair trial and other human rights at all stages of work.
Maintaining the credibility of the profession should be a key concern for the IAP. This requires explicit steps by the IAP to introduce a meaningful human rights policy. Such steps will help to counter devaluation of ethical standards in the profession, revamp public trust in justice professionals and protect the organisation and its members from damaging reputational impact and allegations of whitewashing or complicity in human rights abuses.
For the second year in a row, civil society appeals to the IAP to honour its human rights responsibilities by introducing a tangible human rights policy. In particular:
We urge the IAP Executive Committee and the Senate to:
introduce human rights due diligence and compliance procedures for new and current members, including scope for complaint mechanisms with respect to institutional and individual members, making information public about its institutional members and creating openings for stakeholder engagement from the side of civil society and victims of human rights abuses.
We call on individual members of the IAP to:
raise the problem of a lack of human rights compliance mechanisms at the IAP and thoroughly discuss the human rights implications before making decisions about hosting IAP meetings;
identify relevant human rights concerns before travelling to IAP conferences and meetings and raise these issues with their counterparts from countries where politically-motivated prosecution and human rights abuses by prosecution authorities are reported by intergovernmental organisations and internationally renowned human rights groups.
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)
Asia Justice and Rights, Jakarta
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP), Chiang Mai
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong SAR
Asia Monitor Resource Centre, Hong Kong SAR
Associazione Antigone, Rome
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, Sofia
China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, Hong Kong SAR
Civil Rights Defenders, Stockholm
Civil Society Institute, Yerevan
Citizen Watch, St. Petersburg
Destination Justice, Phnom Penh
Fair Trials, London
Federation of Equal Journalists, Almaty
Free Press Unlimited, Amsterdam
Front Line Defenders, Dublin
Foundation ADRA Poland, Wroclaw
German-Russian Exchange, Berlin
Gram Bharati Samiti, Jaipur
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Warsaw
Human Rights Club, Baku
Human Rights Matter, Berlin
Human Rights Now, Tokyo
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, Budapest
IDP Women Association “Consent”, Tbilisi
Index on Censorship, London
Jerusalem Institute of Justice, Jerusalem
Jordan Transparency Center, Amman
Justiça Global, Rio de Janeiro
Kharkiv Regional Foundation Public Alternative, Kharkiv
Kosovo Center for Transparency, Accountability and Anti-Corruption – KUND 16, Prishtina
Lawyers for Lawyers, Amsterdam
Lawyers for Liberty, Kuala Lumpur
League of Human Rights, Brno
Macedonian Helsinki Committee, Skopje
Masyarakat Pemantau Peradilan Indonesia (Mappi FH-UI), Depok
NGO “Aru ana“, Aktobe
Pakistan Rural Workers Social Welfare Organization (PRWSWO), Bahawalpur
Pensamiento y Acción Social (PAS), Bogotá
Pen International, London
Protection International, Brussels
Protection Desk Colombia, alianza (OPI-PAS), Bogotá
Protection of Rights Without Borders, Yerevan
Public Association Dignity, Astana
Public Association “Our Right”, Kokshetau
Public Fund “Ar.Ruh.Hak”, Almaty
Public Fund “Ulagatty Zhanaya”, Almaty
Regional Center for Strategic Studies, Baku/ Tbilisi
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Lagos
Stefan Batory Foundation, Warsaw
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Petaling Jaya
Transparency International EU Office, Brussels
Transparency International Hungary, Budapest
Transparency International Moldova, Chisinau
Transparency International Nederland, Amsterdam
Transparency International Romania, Bucharest
Transparency International Slovenia, Ljubljana
Transparency International Sverige, Stockholm
Transparency International UK, London
UNITED for Intercultural Action the European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants, refugees and minorities, Budapest
Villa Decius Association, Krakow
 As documented by a number of internationally renowned human rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and the ICJ. See, for example, the HRW World Report 2017, China and Tibet, available at: https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/china-and-tibet; China: call for action at UN on lawyers and other human rights defenders, available at: https://www.icj.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/UN-HRC34-China-JointLetter-Advocacy-2017.pdf.
 The Functioning of the Judicial System in Azerbaijan and its Impact on the Fair Trial of Human Rights Defenders, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Netherlands Helsinki Committee 2016, available at: http://www.defendersorviolators.info/judiciary-in-azerbaijan.
 See, for example: Human Rights and the Professional Responsibility of Judges and Prosecutors in the Work of CCJE and CCPE. Observations to the CCJE-CCPE Joint Report on “Challenges for Judicial Independence and Impartiality in the Member States of the Council of Europe”, Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights 2017, available at: https://www.nhc.nl/assets/uploads/2017/06/20170331-Observations-to-CCJE-CCPE-Report.pdf.
 Standards of Professional Responsibility and Statement of the Essential Duties and Rights of Prosecutors adopted by the International Association of Prosecutors on 23 April 1999.
 See, for example, Options for Promoting Human Rights Compliance by the International Association of Prosecutors, policy brief, October 2016
Petition to the International Association of Prosecutors
The Hague, 5 September 2017
DISPELLING MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT THE TPPA
Press statement by Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 23 Jan 2016
Allow me to dispel some misconceptions raised by some supporters of the TPPA who seem genuinely concerned about wanting Malaysia to submit to a higher “rule of law” trade regime yet appear naïve in making those assumptions.
Is the rejection of the TPPA a retreat into isolationism?
These supporters of the TPPA argue that a rejection of the TPPA is a retreat into isolationism. Some even use the examples of North Korea and Iran to scare Malaysians into accepting the Agreement. This is disingenuous indeed. For a start, North Korea and Iran have been forced into isolation because of sanctions applied by the world community. On the other hand, Malaysia, which is modelled along liberal democratic lines, has one of the most open globally interconnected economies in the world, without being in the TPPA. At the other end of the spectrum is China, which is run by the Chinese Communist Party and is doing pretty well thank you in its trade with countries in every continent even though it is being strenuously isolated from the TPPA by the US.
Will investors stop investing in Malaysia if we do not ratify the TPPA?
That depends on what we have to offer. If tenders cannot be won on merit, if corruption and commissions are the order of the day, if the rule of law is suspect, which investor would want to put their money here? But does the TPPA ensure such bad governance conditions will not prevail anymore? Think again!
Now, assume that we do not join the TPPA. Do you think Lynas will stop dumping their toxic rare earth in Kuantan? Will other Multinational Companies stop coming to invest in Malaysia if the Malaysian government continues with its union-bashing and low wage policies? Only the absolutely naïve would think so. It was the MNCs that demanded these policies in the first place when the first Free Trade Zones were established in Malaysia in the seventies.
Will joining the TPPA lead to a huge growth in trade?
Supporters of TPPA also make the assumption that joining TPPA will lead to a huge growth in trade. However, the facts, according to the recent study of the TPPA by Price Waterhouse Coopers show that the rise in import growth would outpace the increase in export growth. Export growth is projected to rise by 0.54 to 0.90 percentage points in 2027, attributable mainly to higher manufacturing exports.
“The size of the trade surplus will be smaller at US$29.7bil to US$35.1bil, compared to the baseline scenario of US$41.9bil where the TPPA does not exist.”
We also know that with the TPPA, there will only be a negligible 0.01% increase in GDP by 2025. So what is the big deal?
Will the TPPA entrench the rule of law in Malaysia?
Some supporters of the TPPA are of the opinion that the binding stipulations in the Agreement will have a positive impact by strengthening the rule of law in Malaysia. The evidence shows otherwise. Now, even before we have signed the TPPA, the US has already lowered its standards on human rights for Malaysia. First, it upgraded the ranking for Malaysia’s record on human trafficking despite the shocking discovery of mass graves near the Thai border. Then it agreed to the Malaysian government’s request for racial discriminatory exemptions for Bumiputera interests in the TPPA.
The only “rule of law” that the TPPA is concerned about is securing the interests of multinational corporations whenever they face challenges to their profits. Thus the ISDS (Investor-State Dispute Settlement) mechanism is not so much the “rule of law” as the extrajudicial process written into the TPPA whereby governments can be dragged before supra-national tribunals by corporate lawyers if they think national laws violate their TPP rights or limit the MNCs’ expected profits.
Do you think the US is concerned about the “rule of law” in Malaysia beyond the ISDS? President Obama’s diplomatic replies to this question to placate the Najib government during his last visit is instructive. Is the US concerned about the rule of law in Saudi Arabia, their strongest ally in the Middle East?
Geo-political shadow of the TPPA
For the information of these supporters of the TPPA, the US is not so much interested about creating a “Trans-Pacific Rule of Law Abiding Community” as in extrapolating the TPPA into a defence agreement among these countries to isolate China. Countries such as the Philippines and Singapore are famously known to be US protectorates. Vietnam is cozying up to the US because of its dispute with China over the South China Sea claims.
Then Defence Minister Najib Razak’s speech at the US Heritage Foundation on 3 May 2002 exposes the Malaysian Government’s less open allegiance:
“For many years US and Malaysian forces have cooperated on a wide range of missions with virtually no fanfare or public acknowledgement. And in spite of its success, our bilateral defence relationship seems to be an all too well-kept secret…Historically, Malaysia has been a steady, reliable friend of the US. Our multitude of common interests includes trade and investment on a sizeable scale and security cooperation across a range of fronts…” (Kua Kia Soong, ‘Questioning Arms Spending in Malaysia: From Altantuya to Zikorsky’, SUARAM 2010:10)
Do you think the US cares if the Prime Minister of Malaysia decides to sack the Lord President and suspend any Federal Court judges? Did the US care about the rule of law when the military took over in Indonesia in 1965 which then led to the slaughter of more than half a million Indonesians?
So let us not get carried away by the rhetoric embedded in these trade agreements or bear misguided hopes of any nobler rule of law somewhere beyond the TPPA rainbow…
#Malaysia: We are seriously concerned by allegations of torture and degrading treatment of seven individuals charged with suspected terrorism under the controversial Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).
We call on the authorities to urgently conduct an impartial and thorough investigation into these allegations. We also urge the Malaysian Government to sign and ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
In the wake of the attacks in Jakarta last week and the bombing in Bangkok last summer, which have stoked fears across the region, we urge all governments to ensure human rights are protected in their efforts to counter terrorism.
As stated by High Commissioner Zeid earlier this week, the rise of violent extremism and extremist thinking has greatly affected the way in which governments approach human rights. Regrettably repressive measures can actually produce more extremist thinking and unless the governments’ policies support a human rights agenda, extremist ideologies will be reinforced.
Original post can be found here.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) strongly condemn the use of all forms of torture by any individuals, organizations and governments. The use of torture clearly contravenes all recognized international human rights principles and international law.
The appalling revelations brought forward by lawyers and SOSMA detainee is deplorable to say the least. In a world where the use of torture is internationally condemned and rejected, the possibility where that Government of Malaysia is unofficially or inadvertently complicit in the use of torture must be investigated and ascertained.
While reports that torture was systematically used against Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) detainees were prevalent, such practices were thought to be a relic of the past with the abolishment of the ISA. The reports submitted by the lawyers and SOSMA detainees makes it clear that the use of torture is not a relic of a past but a tool of the present!
Acknowledging the severe emotional and physical trauma that torture would inflict upon individuals and the implications to the integrity of the criminal justice system of Malaysia, SUARAM calls upon Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) and the Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) to conduct immediate investigations into the alleged use of torture by the authorities. These revelations also suggest that the existing mechanism for accountability and compliance is insufficient and that the IPCMC is very much needed for accountability and compliance with international standards.
SUARAM demand that the Government of Malaysia establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the use of torture in Malaysia and issue a clear statement condemning the use of torture by any enforcement agencies.
Further, SUARAM believes that the use of torture can only take place in the absence of judicial oversight and transparent investigation procedures. For the use of torture to be put to an end, laws such the Special Offences (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) that gives room for torture to take place must be abolished!
Lastly, SUARAM demand that the Government of Malaysia to sign and ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (UNCAT).
Failure to do so would imply that the Government of Malaysia officially condones and uphold the use of torture in Malaysia contrary to its obligations under international human rights and international law!