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KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 — The federal government has a duty to ensure that human rights are preserved in every state of the federation, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said when denouncing Kelantan's move to make canings public.
Calling such punishments inhuman and degrading, the commission said that caning should not be practised regardless of whether it is prescribed in the civil or Islamic courts.
“Caning in any setting violates the absolute prohibition of torture under international law and is absolutely prohibited by the international human rights treaties that Malaysia has acceded to,” it said in a statement.
It also said Kelantan was not entitled to invoke local sovereignty in its bid to disavow all responsibility to adhere to international treatises.
Suhakam then urged both Kelantan and Putrajaya to repeal any laws that violate global rights standards.
“The federal government must also ensure that human rights are respected throughout the country regardless of the internal governance of each state,” it concluded.
The Kelantan assembly earlier this month amended the state’s Shariah Criminal Procedure Enactment 2002 to allow religious offenders in the PAS state to be caned publicly. Caning is a standard punishment in both civil and Shariah law in Malaysia.
Detractors criticised the move as regressive while supporters sought to defend it by saying it will be limited to Muslims.
Kelantan's adoption of public caning also coincided with a move in the opposite direction in Indonesia's ultra conservative Acheh region.