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Human rights continue to deteriorate in Malaysia

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Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) has issued a press release on the 60th anniversary of the International Human Rights Day, as an overview of the human rights progress in Malaysia in 2007. The organisation concluded that human rights continue to deteriorate in the country, as the institutions meant to protect human rights fail and impunity by the government has grown.
(Bangkok, 11 December 2007) Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), a FORUM-ASIA member organisation, issued a press release on 10 December parallel to the global commemoration of the International Human Rights Day. SUARAM concluded in its overview of the human rights progress that human rights "continue to deteriorate" with growth of impunity and rampant violations against dissent by the government.

This deterioration is "most glaring" in freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, the press release said. More bloggers have been arrested, crackdowns on public assemblies continue and threats from the use of the Internal Security Act (ISA) are constant, allowing indefinite detention without trial. In the Press Freedom Index 2007, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), Malaysia’s ranking fell by 32 places, and now stands at 124th in the world.

Of the ten cases of death in custody reported in 2007, none have had an inquest conducted. Although the Attorney General’s Chambers cleared some corruption cases, their sudden change of the prosecution team in the Altantuya murder case or the attempted murder case of the Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF), casts doubt on their credibility.

The press release also states that the judiciary "has heavily compromised its independence” since the judicial crisis in 1988 and the National Human Rights Commission lacks “the political will to stand firm on human rights principles against the government".

Yap Swee Seng, Executive Director of SUARAM, commented, "If this trend is not reversed, human rights will further deteriorate in coming years. The people of all races will have to unite against this development that has grown out from the divide and rule tactics of the government, if we aspire for a better Malaysia in the future".