Saturday, January 11, 2014

UN raps Malaysian gov't on Comango ban

UN raps Malaysian gov't on Comango ban

The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed “concern” over the recent banning of the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs for the Universal Periodic Review Process (Comango).

Commission spokesperson Rupert Collville said that the UN Human Rights Commission sees the ban as a “reprisal” against the coalition for taking part in the UN's international human rights mechanism the Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

“The secretary-general, the Human Rights Council and the High Commissioner Navi Pillay have persistently called for the protection of individuals and members of groups that cooperate with the UN, its representatives and mechanisms in the field of human rights from acts of intimidation or reprisal,” he said.

He said the Commission is also calling on the government of Malaysia to ammend the Societies Act 1966 so as to allow human rights activists and organisations to operate freely.

“Ensure that they can conduct legitimate activities without intimidation and harassment,” he said in briefing notes sent to the press today.

The Home Ministry had on Jan 8 declared Comango illegal as the majority of the NGOs that make up part of the coalition are “not Islam-based”.

It also said that 15 of the 54 organisations member NGOs are not registered under the Societies Act, thus rendering the entire coalition illegal.

The UN acknowledged that Comango has submitted two joint reports for the UPR of Malaysia, once in 2009 and 2013.

Comango said the information used was collated with cooperation from government agencies without trouble.

The coalition, however, was attacked by Islamic NGOs and Umno lawmakers for allegedly spreading non-Islamic beliefs in the lead up to the 2013 UPR on Oct 24, 2013.

Among others, Comango critics are unsatisfied that the coalition was raising issues such as the rights of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) community and freedom of religion for Muslims.

Comango said it will challenge the ban through a judicial review and stressed that none of its work contradicts with the federal constitution and that its UPR submission is sanctioned by the UN.

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