Tuesday, February 10, 2009

HRW: UN should rebuke M'sia

KUALA LUMPUR - A GLOBAL human rights group urged UN member countries on Tuesday to rebuke Malaysia for allegedly imprisoning dissidents and mistreating migrants.

Human Rights Watch said in a statement the UN's Human Rights Council should take a 'long, hard look' at Malaysia's rights record at its review in Geneva on Wednesday. It will be Malaysia's first review by the council, which evaluates member countries every four years.

'Countries should call Malaysia to account for failing to address abuses against migrants and refugees and for its continuing use of preventative detention,' the group's deputy Asia director, Elaine Pearson, said.

The group said UN members should challenge Malaysia to repeal the decades-old Internal Security Act, which allows the government to indefinitely detain those deemed a threat to national security without trial.

More than 45 people - most of them terror suspects but also five ethnic Indian activists - are still held under the act. Last year, an opposition lawmaker, a blogger and a journalist were also briefly detained under the law.

The government insists the act is necessary to maintain stability.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also said Malaysia fails to protect migrant laborers, who make up more than 2 million of the country's 11 million-strong work force, from physical abuse, unpaid wages and long working hours.

Malaysian officials could not immediately be reached for comment on Tuesday. -- AP

Straits Times

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