(New York, April 27, 2009) – Malaysia’s new prime minister should take immediate steps to distinguish himself from previous governments and implement a human rights agenda, Human Rights Watch said in a letter today. The letter to Prime Minister Najib Razak makes specific recommendations for reform on four issues: arbitrary and preventive detention; freedom of expression; impunity of security forces; and protection of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.
“Prime Minister Najib has a great opportunity to reverse the abusive policies of the past,” said Elaine Pearson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It’s deplorable that Malaysians continue to face arbitrary detention, censorship, and threats to their lives from unaccountable police.”
The letter welcomed Najib’s stated intention “to uphold civil liberties” and demonstrate “regard for the fundamental rights of the people of Malaysia,” and called for the immediate ratification of core United Nations human rights treaties.
Human Rights Watch urged Najib to revoke Malaysia’s long-abused Internal Security Act and to try fairly or release those being detained under the law. He should uphold the rights of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Malaysia by ensuring that existing laws protect rather than penalize them. Human Rights Watch also called on Najib to abolish RELA, the government-backed People’s Volunteer Corps which has been responsible for numerous rights violations against migrants.
“It’s time the Malaysian government delivered on promises to show ‘regard for the fundamental rights of the people of Malaysia,’ so that it is more than just a pretty sound bite,” said Pearson.
To read the letter from Human Rights Watch to the prime minister of Malaysia, please visit:
For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Malaysia, please visit:
For more information, please contact:
In New York, Elaine Pearson (English): +1-212-216-1213; or +1-646-291-7169 (mobile)
In New York, Mickey Spiegel (English): +1-212-216-1229
In Washington, DC, Sophie Richardson (English, Mandarin): +1-202-612-4341; or +1-917-721-7473 (mobile)
In London, Brad Adams (English): +44-20-7713-2767; or +44-79-0872-8333 (mobile)