Friday, July 8, 2011

Side Views
The Malaysian Insider

Right to a peaceful assembly must be protected — Hasmy Agam

July 08, 2011

JULY 8 — The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) welcomes the ongoing consultations between the authorities and Bersih relating to the proposed assembly, which will now be held in a stadium, following the advice given by Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin on July 4 and the subsequent audience by Bersih with His Majesty on July 5.

While welcoming this positive development, under the circumstances, the Commission wishes to reiterate that freedom of peaceful assembly is provided under Article 10(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution and Article 20(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), and that freedom of expression and opinion is provided under Article 19 of the UDHR.

The Commission looks forward to the early resolution of the matter between the authorities and Bersih in the spirit of conciliation, as enjoined by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and shall duly monitor the event.

The Commission also wishes to express its concern over the recent arrests and detentions of several members of Parliament and activists under section 3(1) of the Emergency (Public Order and Prevention of Crime) Ordinance 1969 and calls on the authorities to immediately release all those who are still being detained.

They should be accorded their rights to an open trial with legal representation as enshrined in Articles 9, 10 and 11 of the UDHR which state that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary detention; everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair public hearing; and everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, it is incumbent upon the government to uphold the highest standards in the promotion and protection of the rights of the people. In this regard, the Commission has consistently called for repeal of all preventive detention laws and reiterates that detention without trial is a violation of human rights principles.

* Tan Sri Hasmy Agam is the chairman of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified.

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