Tuesday 2 October 2012
Suaram has right to foreign funds, says Sukaham
The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has thrown its support behind Suaram as authorities continue to probe the human rights watchdog, saying there is nothing wrong for it to receive foreign funds if in the pursuit of defending human rights.
“The 1998 UN Declaration on the Rights and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (formerly known as the Universal Declaration on Human Rights Defender) among others, recognises human rights defenders, of which Suaram is one, and their legitimate activities to protect and promote human rights including the receipt of funds from abroad in respect to defending human rights.
“Human rights defenders should be allowed to function freely, operate in an enabling and safe environment, and have the freedom to determine their statutes, structure and activities," Suhakam chairperson Hasmy Agam said in a statement.
The commission also expressed concern at the manner in which "current investigations into the affairs and accounts of Suaram are being conducted, publicised and reported".
Hasmy (right) urged all authorities involved in ongoing investigations against Suaram to act in accordance to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's assurances for more civil freedom.
Suhakam, he added, welcomed the assurances made by Najib to push for more democratic reforms in response to growing demands for greater civil liberties.
“The commission urges all parties involved in the current investigations to act not only in accordance with the law and established processes but in line with the spirit and intent of the prime minister’s assurances” he said.
When launching the International Law Conference organised by the Malaysian Bar last Wednesday, Najib had said that while there were some who may cynically view the government’s reforms, he had reminded that the journey for reforms will continue.
“Just as Rome was not built in a day, the building of a just, equitable and democratic Malaysia cannot be achieved overnight. The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.
“We have embarked on several steps already but the journey is long and will continue,” Najib was quoted to have said.
‘Gov’t should uphold human rights’
Hasmy added that the government should continue upholding and promoting human rights through positive partnerships with various stakeholders including business and civil society, that will ensure strong democratic governance.
“This is important and is very much in line with that expressed by the PM to move the country forward towards becoming a fully functioning democracy - which requires that domestic human rights policies and practices are fully compliant with universally accepted principles and norms.
“This will reflect well on Malaysia as a member of the UN Human Rights Council and contribute positively to enhancing its international image as a human rights respecting nation,” he said.
Malaysia’s term on the council will end next year.
Hasmy added that the commission will engage with the parties concerned, including government departments and agencies and other enforcement bodies, to obtain important feedback on the Suaram issue.