Tuesday, February 10, 2009

AFP- Malaysia should face grilling at UN Human Right Review

M'sia should face grilling at UN review: HRW

Feb 10, 09 6:19pm

Malaysia should face a grilling over the abuse of migrants and the jailing of political opponents when its seat on the UN Human Rights Council is reviewed this week, a watchdog said today.

"A long, hard look at Malaysia's performance on fundamental human rights, including its detention practices, is in order," said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at New York-based Human Rights Watch.

"Countries should call Malaysia to account for failing to address abuses against migrants and refugees, and for its continuing use of preventative detention," she said in a statement.

Civil society groups have seized on Wednesday's review in Geneva, which is mandatory every four years, to highlight Malaysia's alleged abuses and its draconian colonial-era internal security laws.
The Internal Security Act (ISA) provides for detention without trial for renewable two-year periods, and has been used against suspected terrorists as well as government critics.
"Malaysia uses the pretext of national security to invoke the ISA and lock up critics and political opponents indefinitely," Pearson said.

"UN member states should challenge Malaysia to repeal the ISA, and either to charge or to free all those currently detained under its provisions."
Human Rights Watch said it noted that last year the nation's top blogger, a newspaper journalist and an opposition politician were all detained under the law and later released.

And in 2007 five leaders of an ethnic Indian rights group were arrested after organising unprecedented anti-government protests. They remain in detention in a camp in Kamunting.
Malaysia is also accused of mistreating the millions of foreign workers who live here, as well as asylum seekers, including thousands from military-run Burma.

Human Rights Watch singled out an infamous government-backed volunteer force known as Rela which it accused of beating, threatening and extorting money from migrants and asylum-seekers.