Malaysia reneging on rights treaties? Wait for report, says foreign minister

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the Wisma Putra's comprehensive report will only be ready by the end of this year. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the Wisma Putra's comprehensive report will only be ready by the end of this year. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 ― Putrajaya said today it will review Wisma Putra's comprehensive report to ascertain progress prior to addressing criticism it was backsliding on women and children's rights in recent reviews by the United Nations (UN).

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said the report will only be ready by the end of this year, however, as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process had been held just a few months ago in November.

“Wisma Putra is the lead agency in the UPR process but the actual execution of the recommendations fall under the various agencies. What we're doing is we would come up with our own national reports.

“Perhaps by end of the year we should be able to present how we look like, what is our status,” Saifuddin told the media after the regional launch of UN Population Fund's State of World Population 2019 report here.

During the UPR, the Malaysian delegate had pledged a yearly meeting with civil society to review its track record, in addition to hold a half-yearly review of its progress in the recommendations made in the review.

Held every four-and-half years, the UPR is a UN Human Rights Council mechanism that was established in 2007 to improve the treatment of human rights in all 193 UN member states.

In February last year, representatives from Muslim-majority countries in the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) committee had also criticised Malaysia for allowing female genital mutilation and child marriage.

Saifuddin said today that education and enforcement on those issues were vital while waiting for the report.

He pointed out that Putrajaya's progress would also be monitored through a series of reports that it must submit to the UN as well.

“You may ratify certain conventions, but there are certain reports we need to submit,” he added.

In his speech launching the report earlier, Saifuddin also announced that Putrajaya is hoping to work closely with international civil society as part of the stakeholders in human rights.

This would include a meeting soon with UN agencies with representatives in Malaysia, followed by groups and think tanks representing each country's missions.