Report on Human Rights Practices Country of Malaysia
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Malaysia: Human Rights Make Major Gains | Human Rights Watch
During the annus mirabilis of , the Iron Curtain crumbled before our eyes and six European countries seized their liberty. At that moment, it seemed possible that democracy and liberal values would sweep the world. Sure enough, another eleven countries would escape from dictatorship by But from the vantage point of today, we know the optimism of that era was misplaced. Since the turn of the millennium, the worldwide advance of human rights and democracy has slowed and, in some respects, gone into reverse.
All this makes it even more important for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to strive to uphold the values that define our country.
If there is one essential quality of an open society, it is the freedom of journalists to hold the powerful to account without fear of retribution. Yet the overall picture is bleak.
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In , no less than 99 journalists were murdered around the world, according to the United Nations. Another were jailed by governments and 60 taken hostage by non-state groups. In summer , I will join my Canadian counterpart to host an international conference in London on media freedom. We have decided that democratic countries need to stand together to make it a taboo to murder, arrest or detain journalists just for doing their jobs. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on abuses and raise the price for those who would act to silence the media.
We can only achieve this if countries with shared values work together. I was deeply disturbed to learn that million Christians faced persecution in , according to a study by the campaign group Open Doors. Christians faced harassment in countries in , according to the Pew Research Centre, compared with in I am not convinced that our efforts have always been commensurate with the scale of the problem or the empirical evidence that Christians often endure the greatest burden of persecution.
We must never allow a misguided sense of political correctness to inhibit our response. You will read of the countries where we have particular concerns. In an imperfect world, we will not always be able to respond identically to the same abuses in different settings. They are part of who we are. I am determined that British diplomacy will continue to uphold the principles of humanity and fairness that our country has always stood for.
Human rights matter because it is only when our rights are respected that each of us has the freedom to make the most of our talents and our industry. I work with a committed team of ministers, officials and diplomats across the globe, all determined to extend that freedom and champion the rights of people, no matter where they live or who they are, or what their belief.
We take a 3-pronged approach: we challenge states, which violate or fail to protect human rights; we work constructively with those that are open to change; and we collaborate with governments, international organisations and civil society groups that share our aims.
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This report rightly recognises their contributions towards strengthening human rights protections, and details the strength of our partnerships with them. Over the last 12 months, my role and our prioritisation of human rights has brought me into contact with many inspiring people who have dedicated themselves to fighting for the rights of others, showing incredible courage, often at great personal risk or in the face of overwhelming adversity and opposition.
On International Human Rights Day, I met Wanjeri Nderu, the inspiring human rights defender from Kenya, who has created a network of civil society volunteers, including lawyers and professionals, who use social media to stand up for the rights of those who are less able to defend themselves.
We are proud to support many brave human rights defenders like her around the world, from Sri Lanka to Colombia and beyond. In , the UK increased our funding of initiatives 1. We also shone a spotlight on the need to tackle the stigma associated with innocent victims of sexual violence. The greatest obstacle to success is silence; film is a great medium for breaking the silence. It is important to recognise that faith in all its different reflections is part of finding solutions to the many global challenges we face. The independent review of Christian persecution announced by the Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in December is a further important new strand of our work.
The Foreign Secretary has also launched an ambitious global campaign in support of media freedom, and over the course of last year I met a number of courageous journalists and activists working to strengthen free expression. The UK also continues to show global leadership in the fight against modern slavery in all its forms, a priority for our Prime Minister, Theresa May.
I heard harrowing accounts from victims of slavery when I visited a safe house here in the UK last year.
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They made me all the more determined to work with like-minded states, businesses and civil society groups around the world, to eradicate this hideous crime. One of the specific outcomes of that conference will be the launch of the Murad Code on documenting and investigating crimes of sexual violence. Named after the courageous Nadia Murad, it will encourage greater adherence to international standards and best practice, with the aim of achieving greater accountability, and justice for survivors.
There will also be a declaration of humanity against stigma by faith and belief heads from across the world. I look forward to continuing to develop these plans, delivering our key programmes and to working with partners across the globe within a strong rules-based international system to promote, defend, and strengthen human rights and freedoms for everyone, everywhere. We believe that democratic institutions and accountable government are the foundations on which open, stable, and prosperous societies thrive.
And make it as strong and resilient as it needs to be as new nations rise and the world order is challenged anew. The week celebrated progress but also championed future participation in the democratic process, particularly by members of under-registered groups. We saw a number of challenges to democracy in the world in Figures released by the non-governmental organisation Freedom House, which tracks democratic trends, showed that saw the 13th consecutive year of democratic decline.
While some countries took steps to strengthen democratic freedoms, many more moved backwards 2. It is the right of all people to be able to choose, freely and fairly, those whom they want to govern them; and it is the right of all people to be able to put themselves forward to contest elections peacefully. The UK government continued to support free and fair elections around the world by providing technical and financial assistance to international organisations which carry out election observation missions.
But the political environment around elections continued to pose challenges. During elections, there was often a sharp increase in the number of cases of censorship, technical attacks, or arrests of government critics 3. We followed closely the presidential election in Egypt 26 to 28 March. The election was marked by international concerns about restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly. The TRACE programme set up an election situation room, which was the main civil society vehicle for observation and analysis of the elections.
TRACE funded civil society organisations for the deployment of 6, local observers through the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, together with an additional 8, human rights monitors. The FCO and DFID worked to support this change by lobbying on constitutional issues, and by providing capacity-building programmes for officials in local government.
Through our Embassies and High Commissions, the UK continued to promote good governance and support democratic political institutions to create the foundations where democracy might take root and grow. For example, in Burma, the Departmental Policy Programme supported civil society projects tackling hate speech, and worked with former political prisoners on mental health issues. In India, our network worked closely with the media, including by funding an annual South Asia Journalism Fellowship Programme under our flagship Chevening brand.
Last year we funded 17 fellows, including seven from India. We have also provided project funding to Thomson Reuters in Karnataka to run workshops for journalists to report violence against women and girls. The project aims to strengthen the delivery of quality pre-school education, embedding values, social and emotional competencies, awareness, and cross-cultural skills in children. The project also supports institutions in modelling community-based services for disabled children, to enable their improved inclusion in society.
The CoD Working Group for Protecting and Enabling Civil Society issued its first Call for Recognition to Uzbekistan , to highlight the positive steps taken to advance civil society and democratic freedoms. The British Embassy is strengthening democracy in Uzbekistan through projects which support engagement on a range of issues between civil society, media and the government. We are also building capacity through training, for example on anti-corruption, the delivery of services to the vulnerable, and with the media on developing objective, impartial content.
WFD is a key delivery partner for the UK government, through which the UK shares its democratic experience and expertise. WFD partners with UK political parties, parliaments and assemblies, and electoral and financial audit institutions to increase the effectiveness and accountability of their counterparts in over 30 developing countries.
It also provides assistance to help ensure credible and inclusive elections. The report included guidance, based on the work of WFD and others, for parliaments to help them enhance their protection and promotion of human rights. In March, UK political parties convened an international summit to address the issue of violence against women in politics.
While the testimonies from women politicians about the abuse they had suffered was shocking, their courage and determination were inspiring. In November, WFD supported a conference of women MPs from over countries held in the House of Commons calling for more inclusive politics to overcome the serious obstacles, including violence, which women face when they seek and attain public office. At the Global Disability Summit in July, WFD committed to help create more inclusive political environments for persons with disabilities.
Following the March elections in Sierra Leone, where WFD promoted the inclusion of persons with disability, WFD worked to ensure that parliament, local councils, and political parties continued to mainstream disability inclusion policies throughout their work.
In sub-Saharan Africa, young people make up half the population but are often excluded from political decision-making. In Sri Lanka, WFD presented an introductory briefing on business and human rights to a cross-party parliamentary oversight committee and to the heads of the business and commerce ministries. New counter-terror legislation was passed in May in the Indonesian House of Representatives, following extensive support from WFD in to to bring the legislation in line with international human rights principles.
The laws incorporate many of the suggestions from civil society organisations which WFD connected with the parliament, to ensure an evidence-based approach to law-making.
The UK believes that freedom of expression is both a fundamental right and an essential element of any functioning democracy. Freedom of expression enables media practitioners, civil society representatives, and ordinary citizens to challenge and ultimately improve the work of their governments through open discussion and debate. In , press freedom came under unprecedented attack around the world. According to the NGO Reporters without Borders, 63 journalists, 13 bloggers and other citizen journalists, and 5 media assistants were killed, and journalists were imprisoned. Embassy officials lobbied the Burmese government, and on World Press Freedom Day held a joint roundtable with Dutch Embassy colleagues, to highlight the work of local journalists.
Freedom of expression was tightly constrained in South Sudan. Many reporters exercised self-censorship in order to protect themselves and their families from persecution. Human rights defenders, civil society activists, and political opponents of the government suffered violence and intimidation, and a number disappeared or were killed. In Cuba, a number of journalists and dissidents were arbitrarily detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and political association. A number of political prisoners and prisoners of conscience were held in longer-term detention.
In Tajikistan, through social media, open letters, and lobbying, we actively campaigned for and secured the release of an activist imprisoned for reporting on local corruption. We also lobbied for family members to leave the country to join exiled Tajik activists, which the government then permitted. In , we continued to work with Access Now, a key partner in our work to support freedom of expression. Through its KeepItOn campaign, Access Now fought internet shutdowns — which were on numerous occasions ordered during elections or public protests, and which undermined human rights, disrupted democratic processes, and risked the safety of everyone affected.