Country Profile: Malaysia

Introduction

Malaysia was a member of the Human Rights Council from 2006 to June 2009, and from June 2010 until the end of 2013. It is also a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Thematic Issues

Malaysia has sponsored a number of thematic resolutions on topics such as combating discrimination based on religion or belief, and combating defamation of religions. It has also sponsored a resolution on the right to development.

Freedom of Assembly and of Association

Malaysia has not actively engaged on the issue of freedom of assembly and of association. Restrictions on this right within the country, however, have been brought to the Council’s attention.

Freedom of Expression

Malaysia co-sponsored a resolution on freedom of opinion and expression in 2009. It also co-sponsored a resolution on the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression in 2011, and voted in favour of a similar resolution in 2008.

Human Rights Defenders

Malaysia has not actively supported resolutions on human rights defenders.

Country-Specific Issues

As a member of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Malaysia was a main sponsor of a resolution on the situation of human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar in 2015.

Although it initially voted against a resolution on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2008, Malaysia abstained from voting on similar resolutions in 2009 and 2011. Also in Asia, Malaysia abstained from voting on resolutions on promoting reconciliation and accountability in Sri Lanka in 2012 and 2013.

Malaysia sponsored resolutions and voted in favour of multiple resolutions on Palestine between 2007 and 2014. It was also main sponsor of a resolution on the report of the commission of inquiry on Lebanon and voted in favour of a resolution on the grave situation of human rights in Lebanon caused by Israeli military operations in 2006.

Malaysia consistently abstained from voting on resolutions on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran between 2011 and 2013. It also abstained from voting on annual resolutions on Belarus between 2011 and 2013.

Malaysia has been more forthcoming with resolutions on technical assistance. It co-sponsored a resolution on assistance for Libya in the field of human rights in 2012 and on the resumption of the rights of membership of Libya in the Human Rights Council in 2011. Malaysia co-sponsored a resolution on technical assistance for Sudan in the field of human rights in 2012. It had voted against resolutions on the situation of human rights in the Sudan in 2009 and 2010. Malaysia co-sponsored two resolutions on technical assistance and capacity-building for Yemen in the field of human rights in September 2011 and February 2012. Malaysia consistently voted in favour of multiple resolutions on Syria between 2011 and 2013.

Universal Periodic Review

Malaysia went through the second cycle of its UPR in October 2013. Recommendations Malaysia received centred on international instruments, special procedures, racial discrimination, death penalty, religious freedom, and sexual orientation and gender identity. Under the freedom of opinion and expression, Malaysia received and noted two recommendations to repeal the Sedition Act.

As a recommending state, Malaysia’s recommendations have primarily focused on the rights of the child.