Wednesday February 22, 2017
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Protesters sit on the road at Jalan Ampang during the Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur November 2016. — Picture by Yusof Mat IsaProtesters sit on the road at Jalan Ampang during the Bersih 5 rally in Kuala Lumpur November 2016. — Picture by Yusof Mat IsaKUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 ― Malaysia has not made progress on various human rights areas, Amnesty International (AI) said in its annual report on the country released today.

The group highlighted six problem areas for the country: freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and association, arbitrary arrests and detentions, police and security forces, refugees and asylum seekers and death penalty.

“The persistent crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression and the lack of police accountability in Malaysia are among the major concerns raised in the Amnesty International Report 2016/2017 released today.

“In 2016, repressive acts such as the Sedition Act 1948 and the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 were repeatedly used to silence government critics who were harassed, intimidated and often detained, constant with the trend we see within Southeast Asia on threats towards the region's Human Rights Defenders,” AI Malaysia executive director K. Shamini Darshni said at the launch of the report here.

On arbitrary arrests and detention in Malaysia, Amnesty highlighted the detention of Bersih chairman Maria Chin Abdullah a day before the Bersih 5 rally, as an example.

The 480-page report labelled the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act used to detain her as abusive, along with other preventive detention laws.

It also pressed Malaysia to ratify the United Nations (UN) Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), saying it was just one of 32 UN members yet to do so.

“However, by joining the other 161 UN member states who are party to the UNCAT, Malaysia would be making a firm commitment towards eliminating torture,” Shamini added.

On the death penalty, the report noted that the announcement by the government in 2015 to abolish the death sentence for drug related offences particularly, is yet to materialise, as new death sentences and executions continue to take place.

“The government must show its commitment towards total abolition of the death penalty by putting in place at the soonest possible, a moratorium on all executions,” she added.

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