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Meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)

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As a part of the 12th Regional Consultation of the Asian NGO Network on National Human Rights Institution (ANNI), the participating ANNI members visited the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM), on 20 February 2019. Around 20 ANNI members from across Asia, who work on strengthening and establishing National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in their respective countries, attended the meeting with SUHAKAM to discuss relevant human rights issues and advocacy strategies on both regional and international level.

After a quick round of introduction, the platform was opened for discussing various trajectories and challenges faced by civil society organisations (CSOs) working on issues related to NHRIs. Emphasis was given on the importance of such collaborative meeting between NHRIs and CSOs.

In depth discussions took place, while critically engaging on the topic of who gets priority when it comes to human rights protection, and how it is no longer just about protecting our citizens. Every individual must be protected and made aware of their existing rights. The case of high number of deaths among Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia was discussed, along with the lack of protection of LGBTI community’s rights which was noted as problematic. The importance of incorporating intersectional approach while tackling such sensitive cases was highlighted. Further discussions took place regarding the integration of bottom-up approach and the importance of using education from a preliminary level to tackle anti-discrimination ideologies among school children. The difficulties faced by the CSOs and other grassroots organisations were also discussed especially in the context of advocacy, and how no amount of advocacy is sufficient until the Government is at par with it.

The open discussion further touched upon a number of topics including: the importance of promoting and protecting human rights as well as advocacy work to improve compliance of Asian NHRIs with international standards; the importance in complying with the Paris Principles and addressing the gaps within the Principles; NHRIs to develop regional or international cooperative mechanism for cross border issues