Malaysia: Backsliding on Rights (Part III)

Posted on Sunday, February 3rd, 2013 and is filed under Asia, World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

The government appealed a 2011 Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling that a “license to publish is a right, not a privilege,” therefore requiring review of the government’s “improper and irrational” unwillingness to issue a license to the largest on-line newspaper, Malaysiakini, to publish a daily print edition.

An amendment to the Evidence Act provides that computer owners and operators of computer networks are publishers and thus responsible for the content displayed on their screens unless they could prove they had nothing to do with the content. This raises concerns about the presumption of innocence as well as free expression. 

Malaysian police appear to routinely violate the rights of persons in custody, Human Rights Watch said. Police personnel have employed unnecessary or excessive force during demonstrations, while carrying out arrests, and in police lockups. Deaths in custody, routinely attributed to disease, go uninvestigated, suspects are beaten to coerce confessions, and criminal suspects die in suspicious circumstances during apprehension by police. Alleged police abuses go uninvestigated. 

Malaysian immigration law still does not recognize refugees and asylum seekers, and prohibits them from working and their children from going to school. Unauthorized migrants face arrest and detention in unsanitary and overcrowded immigration detention centers, and caning for violating the immigration law. Anti-trafficking efforts conflate human trafficking with people smuggling, and punishes rather than protects trafficking victims by holding them in inadequate, locked shelters that resemble detention centers rather than care facilities. The government continues to do little to protect migrant domestic workers from beatings and sexual abuse by their employers. 

“Numerous sectors of Malaysia’s economy depend on migrant workers, yet Malaysia continues to treat them as disposable people who can be used and abused,” said Robertson. “The government should fully respect migrant workers’ rights and stop re-victimizing those who have been trafficked to Malaysia.” (Ref:  Human Rights Watch)

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