Monday, June 03, 2019

NO Human Rights Commissioners in Malaysia for past 37 days - Is government not committed to HR?

Malaysia has a Human Rights Commission(SUHAKAM), and the term of the last batch of HR Commissioners ended on  April 27 - Hence, for more than 1 month, we do not have Human Rights Commissioners. This is unacceptable...The new batch of HR Commissioners should have long been appointed, and should have taken over as of April 28 - there should have been no GAP.
Without HR Commissioners, SUHAKAM is weakened - as the powers really are with the HR Commissioners and not with the staff of the Commission.
With the new Pakatan Harapan led-government, Human Rights should have been a priority and seen to be, it is most disappointing that there are still no HR Commissioners - and, there is not even an indication as to when they will be appointed?
Previously, the Barisan Nasional government also delayed the appointment of the immediate past team of HR Commissioners - who was only finally appointed in July, about 58 days late...and before that there was a delay of 38 days.
The UMNO-BN regime also cut the budget of SUHAKAM to half..
Now, who the Chairman is and who the Human Rights Commissioners are is of utmost importance - a choice of a 'pro-government' or persons who are fearful to speak out and act when the perpetrators is government, police, government agencies or even GLCs will make a totally ineffective Human Rights Commission. 
The past 2 Chairpersons of SUHAKAM, being Hasmy Agam and  Tan Sri Razali Ismail outshined their predecessor, Abu Talib Othman(a former Attorney General), by their indpendent acting without fear or favour for the protection and promotion of Human Rights. They bravely spoke out when the government and its officers violated human rights or failed to defend/promote human rights. SUHAKAM was a true National Human Rights Institution.

Remember, that the last public inquiry into the enforced disappearance of Amri and Pastor Koh, SUHAKAM came out with a 'fearless' finding linking the police(in particular the Special Branch) to the disappearance of the 2. 

Hasmy Agam, Chairperson  2010 - 2016

Razali Ismail, Chairperson(2016-2019)
Hence, the selection of the Chairperson and the Human Rights Commissioners is very important - we do not want those who are not brave to speak out, even against the government of the day when they fail to protect/promote human rights, or when they are seen as being the 'perpetrator' of human rights violations themselves or through their agents...
During the chairmanship of Hasmy Agam, and then Razali Ismail, SUHAKAM's credibity with the people of Malaysia, nay the world, increased. 
The Pakatan Harapan's delay in appointing HR Commissioners is disappointing...
If the Pakatan Harapan-led government appoints weak, pro-government ...that fail to match the quality and standards of the immediate past HR Chairperson and Commissioners, we will all be again most disappointed.
We need strong vocal defenders and promoters of Human Rights...
Is this delay because of the recent outcome of the enforced disappearance finding of the public inquiry conducted by SUHAKAM?
After all, many are already most disappointed with the delays and procrastination of this PH-led government when it comes to Human Rights - Promises to repeal Detention Without Trial laws(which violates the right to a fair trial amongst others), SOSMA, Sedition Act...has still not happened. Nothing also happened with the University and University Colleges Act, Peaceful Assembly Act, Societies Act, ...
SUHAKAM's reports have still not been tabled and debated in Parliament..
Budget - will the PH-led government at the very least increase back SUHAKAM's budget to what it was before the Najib's government slashed it to half..
In 2015, the Barisan Nasional administration slashed Suhakam’s budget for 2016 from around RM10 million to just RM5.5 million  
Now, SUHAKAM gets RM12 million - but that is still not enough as reasonably, SUHAKAM should have offices in every State so the people can have easier access to SUHAKAM...note that every complaint will also have to be investigated...
“We have 82 staff, eight commissioners and three offices in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak who conduct many activities and we need roughly RM16 million,” he told the press after the launching Suhakam’s annual report here....for last year’s budget, we got RM10 million as well. But after meeting Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, he added an additional RM2 million. - Malay Mail, 19/4/2019
It may also be best to amend the law, to ensure that term of office of HR Commissioners shall continue until the next batch of Commissioners take over. In this way, we will not be faced with a stituation where there are NO HR COMMISSIONERS. This is something that the government should seriously consider. But, always best is that there be NO gaps - that incoming Chairpersons and Commissioners are already selected and will be appointed on the day after the previous batch ends its term in office.

Appoint new commissioners for Suhakam now, NGO urges govt
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia has been without a chairman and commissioners for over a month now.
PETALING JAYA: A civil society group has urged the government to fill the vacancies in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) without further delay following the expiration of term of its previous commissioners more than a month ago.

Eliminating Deaths and Abuse in Custody Together chairman M Visvanathan said the gap between appointments reflects badly on the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government and its efforts to prove that it takes human rights issues seriously.

“It does not instil confidence in the people, especially when there are no commissioners around to receive and investigate public complaints,” he told FMT.

In fact, he added, just two weeks ago, only the Suhakam executive secretary had been present to receive a complaint from a 30-year-old man who claimed he was tortured during an investigation at the Sentul police headquarters last month.
Suhakam was established by Parliament under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, with a mandate to protect, promote and monitor human rights in Malaysia.

Under the Suhakam Act, a selection committee chaired by the chief secretary submits a list of candidates for the prime minister to consider and recommend to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
In its manifesto, PH said Suhakam commissioners would be appointed through a parliamentary committee.

The previous Suhakam chairman, Razali Ismail, resigned from office on April 16, almost two weeks before the end of his term on April 27.

Others whose terms lapsed were Loke Yim Pheng, Mah Weng Kwai, Aishah Bidin, Salida Suhaila Nik Salleh, Francis Johen, Godfrey Gregory Joitol and Jerald Joseph.

Commissioners’ terms run for three years. The last round of appointments was made in July 2016 and backdated to April that year.

At that point, Suhakam had been without a chairman and commissioners for 58 days. A similar situation in 2013 saw a delay in appointment of 38 days.

Visvanathan, who is also a lawyer, said the lack of new appointments had put Suhakam in limbo.

He added that PH appeared to be following in the steps of the previous Barisan Nasional government in only appointing Suhakam members after a gap in time. - FMT, 29/5/2019

Press Statements issued by SUHAKAM in 2019
Date Title
24 April 2019 Press Statements No.16 of 2019 (“SUHAKAM’s Statutory Mandate as National Human Rights Institution”)
23 April 2019 Press Statements No.15 of 2019 (“Mou SUHAKAM and Komnas HAM on Statelessness issues in Sabah”)
22 April 2019 Press Statements No.14 of 2019 (“Protecting the Right to FOE of Human Rights Defenders”)
17 April 2019 Press Statements No.13 of 2019 (“Resignation of Tan Sri Razali Ismail as SUHAKAM’s Chairman”)
22 March 2019 Press Statements No.12 of 2019 (“Dumping of Industrial Waste into Sungai Kim Kim”)
21 March 2019 Press Statements No.11 of 2019 (“International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination”)
21 March 2019 Press Statements No.10 of 2019 (“Judicial Colloquium 2019″)
17 March 2019 Press Statements No.9 of 2019 (“Adoption of UPR recommendation at the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva”)
16 March 2019 Press Statements No.8 of 2019 (“Abolition of 11 offences under Death Penalty”)
8 March 2019 Press Statements No.7 of 2019 (“International Women’s Day 2019″)
7 March 2019 Press Statements No.6 of 2019 (“Accession to Rome Statute of the ICC”)
25 February 2019 Press Statements No.5 of 2019 (SUHAKAM’s Response to YB Dato’ Sri Nazri Aziz’s Statement”)
21 February 2019 Press Statements No.4 of 2019 (Yemen Symposium”)
20 February 2019 Press Statements No.3 of 2019 (Establishment of RCI”)
19 January 2019 Press Statement No. 2 of 2019 (“Federal Government Filed a Suit against Kelantan State Government”)
14 January 2019 Press Statements No.1 of 2019 (“Arrest of 3 individuals under Sedition Act 1948″)

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