Support Human Rights in Malaysia


Target: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak

Goal: Encourage Malaysia to accept the United Nations’ human rights recommendations during its upcoming Universal Periodic Review

A recently-implemented program in the United Nations calls for all member states to undergo regular Universal Periodic Reviews, in which the other states offer their recommendations and raise any human rights concerns. Malaysia is due for its review at the end of October 2013, and its human rights situation continues to be precarious. Sign the petition and urge Malaysia’s prime minister to cooperate with and implement any changes proposed by the UN’s evaluation.

Malaysia was last reviewed by the UN in 2009, and Amnesty International has expressed serious concerns over the implementation–or lack thereof–of the UN’s suggestions. In its 2013 annual report, Amnesty listed a myriad of human rights concerns, including the restriction of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, “excessive use of force,” “arbitrary arrests and detentions,” and instances of the death penalty. The organization also criticized Malaysia’s treatment of migrants and refugees, citing in particular the cases of Hamza Kashgari and Onochie Martins Nwankwo. Kashgari, a blogger, was forcibly returned–in violation of international law–to his home country of Saudi Arabia, where he faced the death penalty. Nwankwo, a student from Nigeria, was killed by members of Ikatan Relawan Rakyat (RELA), “a civilian para-police force mandated to enforce immigration controls.”

Malaysia has taken baby steps toward a better human rights situation; in October 2012, Amnesty reports, “Law Minister Nazri Aziz announced that the government would consider replacing the mandatory death penalty with prison sentences, but only for drug offences [sic] and under certain circumstances.” In July 2012, the government announced its plans to repeal the 1948 Sedition Act, which was used to stifle freedom of expression. However, human rights “advances” in Malaysia are often a case of “one step forward, two steps back”; for instance, the proposed replacement for the Sedition Act, the new National Harmony Act, “contained new restrictions on freedom of expression,” while a section of the Evidence Act made those who operate chat-based websites liable for all content posted by all users.

These crackdowns on personal liberties must end. Sign the petition and offer your support of the UN’s upcoming human rights recommendations, and encourage Malaysia to be more diligent about implementing the recommendations of this session than they were about 2009’s.


Dear Prime Minister,

As its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) approaches, Malaysia must take a long, hard look at its current stance on human rights and work to amend its legal system. I urge Malaysia to accept the United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ recommendations, and I exhort the country to be more steadfast and diligent in implementing the recommendations of this session than they were about implementing those offered in 2009.

Despite tiny glimmers of hope (such as the possible end to the mandatory death penalty for some drug offenses), Malaysia’s human rights record remains less than ideal, with crackdowns on freedom of speech and expression plaguing the years since the last review. Amnesty International has also raised concerns about “arbitrary arrests and detentions” and the use of excessive force in Malaysia, citing in particular the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, which allows suspects to be detained incommunicado for 48 hours and held for “up to 28 days without charge or judicial review.” Treatment of immigrants has also been dismal; Nigerian student Onochie Martins Nwankwo was murdered by para-police forces in March 2013, and in February Saudi blogger Hamza Kashgari was forcibly returned to Saudi Arabia, where he faced the death penalty. His deportation was in violation of international law.

Malaysia has made progress, but it still has a very long way to go before it can have a human rights record to be proud of. I urge you to accelerate Malaysia’s progress toward a fairer, more tolerant future–implement the recommendations of the UN’s review.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Ahmad Rithauddin via Wikimedia Commons

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