1. Principles Relating to the Status of National Institutions, GA Res. 48/134, Annex, UN Doc. A/RES/48/134 (1993) [Paris Principles].
2. The current practice in the Human Rights Council is that only NHRIs with “A” accreditation, as well as the ICC, are issued full accreditation (with a NHRI badge), which gives them the right to take the floor on any agenda item of the Human Rights Council and to submit written statements: Nineteenth Session of the Annual Meeting of the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, “Participation of Regional Co-ordinating Committees in the Human Rights Council” (March 2007), online: NHRI Forum 〈www.nhri.net/docs/ICC_HRC-regional_coordinating_committees_paper_E.pdf〉.
3. CARDENAS, Sonia, “Adaptive States: The Proliferation of National Human Rights Institutions”, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy Working Paper T-01-04, 25 September 2003 at 3.
5. LIM, Kit Siang and LIM, Kit Siang, “The Socialization of International Human Rights Norms into Domestic Practices” in Thomas RISSE, Stephen C. ROPP, and Kathryn SIKKINK, eds., The Power of Human Rights International Norms and Domestic Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 1 at 10.
6. KUMAR, Raj, “National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: Toward the Institutionalization and Developmentalization of Human Rights” (2006) 28 Human Rights Quarterly 755;
Cardenas, Sonia, “Emerging Global Actors: The United Nations and National Human Rights Institutions” (2003) 9 Global Governance 23;
RAMCHARAN, Bertrand, ed., The Protection Role of National Human Rights Institutions (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2005);
BURDEKIN, Brian, National Human Rights Institutions in the Asia Pacific Region (Leiden: Martinus Nijhoff, 2006).
8. WHITING, Amanda, “Situating SUHAKAM: Human Rights Debates and Malaysia’s National Human Rights Commission” (2003) 39 Stanford Journal of International Law 59.
9. POHJOLAINEN, Anna-Elina, The Evolution of National Human Rights Institutions (Copenhagen: The Danish Institute for Human Rights, 2006) at 1.
10. Strengthening of the United Nations: An Agenda for Future Change, Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. A/57/387 (2002).
11. DURBACH, Andrea, RENSHAW, Catherine, and BYRNES, Andrew, “A Tongue but No Teeth? The Emergence of a New Human Rights Mechanism in the Asia Pacific Region” (2009) 31 Sydney Law Review 211.
12. There have been suggestions that the European Court of Human Rights, overwhelmed by the number of its individual complaints, should consider giving national institutions standing to bring class actions, or require applicants to submit their complaints to their NHRI as part of the process of exhausting domestic remedies. Greer argues that “there is a strong case that the Council of Europe should develop its current policy of encouraging member states to establish NHRIs, to requiring them to do so”; see
GREER, Steven, The European Convention on Human Rights: Achievments, Problems and Prospects (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006) at 314.
13. Burdekin, supra note 6 at 7. See also
BYRNES, Andrew, DURBACH, Andrea, and RENSHAW, Catherine, “Joining the Club: The Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, the Paris Principles, and the Advancement of Human Rights Protection in the Region” (2008) 14 Australian Journal of Human Rights 63.
14. Paris Principles, supra note 1.
15. The accreditation classifications are: (a) “A” status—the national human rights institution is in compliance with the Paris Principles; and (b) “B” status—Observer Status—where the NHRI is not fully in compliance with the Paris Principles or insufficient information has been provided to make a determination; or (c) “C” status—the NHRI is not in compliance with the Paris Principles. Prior to 2008, the ICC also used a fourth category: A(R) “Accreditation with reserve—granted where insufficient documentation is submitted to confer A status”. In 2008, the ICC discontinued use of the A(R) category for new accreditations. Byrnes et al., supra note 13 at 64, note 1.
16. National Human Rights Institutions Forum homepage, online: NHRI Forum 〈www.nhri.net〉.
17. National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, Report of the Secretary-General, UN Doc. A/HRC/10/54 (2009).
18. Louise ARBOUR, Address at the 20th Session of the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions, 15 April 2008 (material on hand with author).
20. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 13 December 2006, GA Res. 61/106, Annex I, UN Doc. A/RES/61/106 (entered into force 3 May 2008), art. 33(2) [CRPD].
21. Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 18 December 2002, GA Res. 57/199, UN Doc. A/RES/57/199 (entered into force 22 June 2006), art. 19 [OPCAT].
23. See e.g., Human Rights Watch, National Human Rights Institutions: Protectors or Pretenders? Government Human Rights Commissions in Africa (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2001);
O’SULLIVAN, Maria, “National Human Rights Institutions: Effectively Protecting Human Rights?” (2000) 25 Alternative Law Journal 236.
South Asia Human Rights Documentation Center (SAHRDC), National Human Rights Institutions in the Asia Pacific Region, Report of the Alternate NGO Consultation on the Second Asia-Pacific Regional Workshop on National Human Rights Institutions (New Delhi, India: SAHRDC, March 1998) at 37, quoted in Cardenas, supra note 3 at 2.
25. BELL, Christine, Peace Agremeents and Human Rights (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) at 231.
26. In 2008, Germany was the representative of Europe and Chair of the Sub-Committee, Morocco was the member representing Africa, the Republic of Korea was the member for the Asia Pacific, and Canada was the member for the Americas.
27. International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, “Report and Recommendations on the Sub-Committee on Accreditation Annexure 5: Decision Paper on the Review of ICC Accreditation Procedures for National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs)” (March 2008), online: NHRI Forum 〈www.nhri.net/2008/DecisionPaper-NHRI-March2008〉 at 1–15.
30. International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, “Report and Recommendations of the Sub-Committee on Accreditation” (April 2008) at 1.
34. The State of Emergency declared in 1964 as a result of the Indonesian confrontation, the Sarawak political crisis in 1966, the 13 May riots in 1969, and the Kelantan political crisis in 1977, had not been annulled and were all subsisting collectively. Lim Kit Siang (Secretary-General, Democratic Action Party, Leader of the Opposition, House of Representatives, Malaysia) writes that:
The most repressive laws of British colonial times to keep subjects under tight control have become even more draconian—as in the case of the Official Secrets Act, which marks Malaysia as the only Commonwealth parliamentary democracy which provides for mandatory minimum one year jail sentence for any offence under the act—institutionalising a more secretive government to protect corruption, cronyism and nepotism and going against the international trend towards a more open and accountable government, especially with the advent of the era of information technology.
LIM, Kit Siang, “Will the Human Rights Commission be Irrelevant?” in S. Sothi RACHAGAN and Ramdas TIKAMDAS, eds., Human Rights and the National Commission (Kuala Lumpur: HAKAM, 1999), 111 at 113.
35. Official Secrets Act 1972 (Act 88); Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 (Act 301); Sedition Act 1948 (Act 15) (Revised 1969); Police Act 1967 (Act 344) (Revised 1988).
36. As Deputy Prime Minister, Ibrahim responded to the 1997 economic crisis by calling for greater accountability. He argued against government bail outs to politically connected companies and cut government expenditure in several large projects. He also introduced controversial Anti-Corruption Legislation. These measures led to a public fall-out with Prime Minister Mahathir. On 29 September 1998, Anwar Ibrahim was photographed walking into court (charged with sodomy and corruption) with a black eye, allegedly received while in police custody. The photograph made headlines around the world. Ibrahim was subsequently imprisoned at Sungai Buloh Penitentiary on charges of corruption.
37. See Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression, Report on the Mission to Malaysia, UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights by Abid Hussein, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1999/64/Add.1. (1998).
38. “Barisan Nasional” is Malay for “National Front”.
39. RAMAKRISHNAN, P., “Suhakam: A Warehouse for Reports?” Aliran Monthly (July 2003).
40. SUHAKAM was awarded “A” status by the ICC at the time of its establishment. As discussed in the first section of this article, the ICC’s accreditation procedures were at that time (and until recently), largely “paper based”, involving a review of an institution’s founding legislation and an assessment of its financial independence.
41. See Ramakrishnan, supra note 39.
42. The Hall of the People (House of Representatives), the lower house of the Malaysian Parliament.
43. Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Bin Syed Jaafar Albar, “Rationale for the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia” in Rachagan and Tikamdas, eds., supra note 34 at 103.
46. Malaysian Human Rights Commission Act 1999 (Act 597), s. 4(1) [Malaysian Human Rights Commission Act 1999].
47. There is a reappointment period of another two years. These provisions were amended in 2009: see the discussion in section VIII of this article.
48. See Malaysian Human Rights Commission Act 1999, supra note 46.
50. There are nine rights regarded as fundamental in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia: liberty of the person (art. 5); freedom from slavery and forced labour (art. 6); protection against retrospective criminal laws and repeated trials (art. 7); equality (art. 8); prohibition of banishment and freedom of movement (art. 9); freedom of speech, assembly, and association (art. 10); freedom of religion (art. 11); rights in respect of education (art. 12); and the right to property (art. 13).
51. Federal Constitution of Malaysia, art. 10(2).
52. The Commission was later moved to the Prime Minister’s Department.
53. The Foreign Minister at the time stated that SUHAKAM was established “to ensure that human rights do not continue to be played up by groups providing a cynical or inaccurate picture”.
NETTO, Anil, “Skepticisim Greets Malaysia’s New Human Rights Body” Asia Times Online (8 April 1999), quoted in Whiting, supra note 8 at 69.
54. SUHAKAM itself wrote in its report to the UN Human Rights Council’s UPR in February 2009:
A Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department publicly said that SUHAKAM would not be given “teeth”. The credibility and effectiveness of SUHAKAM may now be greatly damaged together with a loss of international standing if steps are not taken by April 2009 to address the concerns raised in an ICC report recommending to downgrade SUHAKAM’s status grading to “B”. The ICC perceives SUHAKAM’s founding Act to be not fully compliant with Paris Principles especially where the appointment process of Commissioners is non-transparent. Pertinent legislative amendments to the Act are of utmost necessity and urgency.
See SUHAKAM, “Report for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Malaysia”, 4th Session, February 2009, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) at 1, para. 4 [SUHAKAM, “UPR Report”].
55. See Malaysian Human Rights Commission Act 1999, supra note 46, s. 12(2). Section 12(3) provides that “if an allegation of human rights infringement or violation being investigated by SUHAKAM” becomes the subject matter of any proceedings in any court, then “SUHAKAM shall immediately cease its investigation”.
56. Asia Pacific Forum Member Activity Reports: APF Annual Conference Paper—Report of Malaysia (July 2008) (material on hand with author).
57. RACHAGAN, S. Sothi and TIKAMDAS, Ramdas, “Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999: A Critique” in Rachagan and Tikamdas, eds., supra note 34 at 189.
58. Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, supra note 46, s. 5(3).
60. Indonesia Law No. 39 of 1999 Concerning Human Rights, art. 83(4) [Indonesia Law No. 39].
61. Philippines Executive Order No 163 (1987), s. 2(c).
62. Thailand National Human Rights Commission Act, B.E. 2542 (1999), s. 10 [Thailand National Human Rights Commission Act].
63. Indonesia Law No. 39, supra note 60, arts. 83(4) and 84(4).
64. Philippines Executive Order No. 163, supra note 61, s. 2(a).
65. Thailand National Human Rights Commission Act, supra note 62, s. 5.
66. Indonesia, Law No. 39, supra note 60, art. 83(1).
67. Thailand National Human Rights Commission Act, supra note 62, s. 8(1).
68. There apparently exists a view, however, that the Commission’s investigative power is limited to violations of civil and political rights. See Simon v. Human Rights Commission,  2229 SCRA 117, G.R. No. 100150, cited in ANNI, Report on the Performance and Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia (Bangkok: FORUM-ASIA, 2008) at 141.
69. 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, art. XIII, s. 18(1) [Philippines Constitution].
70. Ibid., art. XIII, s. 18(2).
71. Ibid., art. XIII, s. 18(8).
72. Thailand National Human Rights Commission Act, supra note 62, s. 3.
73. See section VIII below, which details some of the responses of SUHAKAM Commissioners to the prospect of being downgraded by the ICC.
75. See Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, World Conference on Human Rights, UN Doc A/CONF.157/23 (2003) at 36:
the important and constructive role played by national institutions for the promotion and protection of human rights, in particular in their advisory role to the competent authorities, their role at remedying human rights violations, in the dissemination of information and education in human rights.
76. Interview with Musa Hitam, Former Deputy Prime Minister and First Commissioner of SUHAKAM, in Kuala Lumpur (1 August 2008).
77. See “International Council on Human Rights Policy, Assessing the Effectiveness Of National Human Rights Institutions” (2005), online: OHCHR 〈www.ohchr.org/Documents/Publications/NHRIen.pdf〉;
SMITH, Anne, “The Unique Position of National Human Rights Institutions: A Mixed Blessing” (2006) 28 Human Rights Quarterly 904.
REIF, Linda C., “Building Democratic Institutions: The Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Good Governance and Human Rights Protection” (2000) 13 Harvard Human Rights Journal 27.
79. Interview with Brian Burdekin, former Australian Human Rights Commissioner, in Sydney, NSW (20 February 2009).
81. Interview with Simon Sipaun, SUHAKAM Commissioner, in Kuala Lumpur (5 August 2008).
82. Interview with Tun Musa Hitam, Former Deputy Prime Minister and First Commissioner of SUHAKAM, in Kuala Lumpur (1 August 2008).
87. SUHAKAM’s initial critics included Amnesty International; see Amnesty International, “Malaysian Human Rights Undermined: Restrictive Laws in a Parliamentary Democracy” (28 June 1999), online: UNHCR 〈www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/3ae6a9e04.html〉. See also Whiting, supra note 8 at 1.
88. Interview with S. Arutchelvan, Secretary-General of the Malaysian Socialist Party, in Kuala Lumpur (31 July 2008).
89. SUHAKAM, , “Inquiry on Its Own Motion into the November 5th Incident at the Kesas Highway” (2001), online: SUHAKAM: 〈www.suhakam.org.my/215〉.
90. Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim, quoted in ERA Consumer Malaysia, “SUHAKAM After 6 Years: Are We, Honestly, Making Any Headway?” (Petaling Jaya: Education and Research Association for Consumers, Malaysia, 2007) at 3.
91. See “DAP Calls for the Filling of the Seven SUHAKAM Vacancies with Nominees from the NGO Human Rights Community to Resolve the SUHAKAM Crisis of Confidence” New Straits Times (26 April 2002).
NETTO, Anil, “Malaysia’s New Rights Watchdog Already Under Fire” Asia Times (27 April 2002).
94. MOHAMAD, Maznah, “Towards a Human Rights Regime in Southeast Asia: Charting the Course of State Commitment” (2002) 24 Contemporary Southeast Asia 230.
95. This incident has been the subject of much commentary and debate. The account of
HARDING, A.J. in “The 1988 Constitutional Crisis in Malaysia” (1990) 39 International & Comparative Law Quarterly 57 is particularly helpful.
96. THIO, Li-ann, “Panacea, Placebo or Pawn? The Teething Problems of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM)” (2009) 40 George Washington International Law Review 1271 at 1296.
97. Anil Netto writes that “Critics of the inquiry felt that its scope was too narrow and did not fully explore whether others were involved”. Talib’s inquiry pinned responsibility on the country’s then chief of police. See Netto, supra note 92.
99. See Thio, supra note 96 at 1296.
100. See “No Engagement with SUHAKAM for 100 Days” Aliran Monthly (May 2002).
101. See Thio, supra note 96 at 1296.
103. Although ineffectiveness, of course, can often be a product of a lack of independence, it is important to consider other causes of ineffectiveness as well, such as in the case of SUHAKAM: a Commission’s restricted mandate, limited powers, a government which is unresponsive to recommendations and reports.
104. Malaysia has ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Convention on the Rights of the Child; other key human rights conventions (including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights) have not been ratified.
105. Interview with Ivy Josiah, human rights advocate, in Kuala Lumpur (9 August 2008).
106. See SUARAM, Malaysia Human Rights Report 2007 (Kuala Lumpur: SUARAM, 2007) at 166.
107. Interview with Denison Jayasooria, SUHAKAM Commissioner, in Kuala Lumpur (4 August 2008).
108. Interview with Simon Sipaun, supra note 81.
109. Interview with SUHAKAM Commissioner, in Kuala Lumpur (7 August 2008).
110. DAMIS, Aniza, “SUHAKAM Treads an Arduous Path: Interview with Tan Sri Abu Talib Othman” New Straits Times (3 August 2008).
111. Interview with Simon Sipaun, supra note 81.
113. On 12 September 2008, online social commentator and editor of Malaysia Today, Raja Petra Kamarudin, was arrested under section 73(1) of the Internal Security Act, for threatening national security and potentially causing tension among the country’s multiracial and multi-religious society. “Raja Petra Arrested Under ISA” MalaysiaKini (12 September 2008).
114. See supra note 36, regarding the arrest of Anwar Ibrahim.
115. BURDEKIN, Brian, “Basic Concepts of a National Human Rights Commission: An International Perspective” in Rachagan and Tikamdas, eds., supra note 34 at 67.
116. Sothi RACHAGAN, S. and TIKAMDAS, Ramdas, “Introduction”, in Rachagan and Tikamdas, eds., ibid.
117. Aliran, , HAKAM, , and SUARAM, , “What We Expect of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Memorandum to Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia” Aliran Monthly (July 2000).
118. Ramakrishnan, supra note 39.
119. Mohamad, supra note 94 at 230.
120. See the restrictions contained in section 12(2) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act (1999), which provides that the Commission shall not inquire into any complaint relating to any allegation of the infringement of human rights which (a) is the subject matter of any proceedings pending in any court, including any appeals; or (b) has been finally determined by any court. Section 12(3) provides that if the Commission inquires into an allegation under subsection 12(1) and during the pendency of such inquiry the allegation becomes the subject matter of any proceedings in any court, the Commission shall immediately cease the inquiry.
121. Philip Eldridge also suggested that the establishment of SUHAKAM may have represented “an attempt at rapprochement with the UN human rights system”.
ELDRIDGE, Philip, “Emerging Roles of National Human Rights Institutions in Southeast Asia” (2002) 14 Pacifica Review 209 at 220–221 [footnotes omitted].
122. Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia (National Human Rights Society).
123. See Paris Principles, supra note 1.
124. LIM, Kit Siang, “Will the Human Rights Commission be Irrelevant?”, in Rachagan and Tikamdas eds., supra note 34 at 125.
126. SAMY, Florence A., “SUHAKAM Risks Being Downgraded” The Star (25 July 2008).
127. See SUHAKAM, “UPR Report”, supra note 54 at 1.
128. See interview with Abu Talib Othman, SUHAKAM chairperson, in “Q & A: SUHAKAM ‘Undeterred’ by Criticisms” Malaysiakini (25 August 2007), online: Malaysiakini 〈www.malaysiakini.com/news/71615〉, as quoted in SUARAM, supra note 106 at 165.
129. ERA Consumer is a federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations and one of Malaysia’s largest and most powerful NGOs.
130. See “Mahathir: It’s My Right to Attend Seminar” The Star (8 September 2005).
131. See Thio, supra note 96 and Whiting, supra note 8. SUARAM publishes yearly reports on the human rights situation in Malaysia; since 2000 these reports have included an appraisal of SUHAKAM’s achievements over the course of the year.
132. Malaysian Head of State.
133. Federal Constitution of Malaysia, supra note 50, art. 149(1).
134. Ibid., art. 149(1)(b).
135. Ibid., art. 149(1)(c).
136. Ibid., art. 149(1)(e).
137. VOHRAH, Dato K.C., “Perspectives in Modern Public Order Policing” (2007) 1 Malaysian Journal of Human Rights 1.
138. Declared by the British in 1948. See
HICKLING, R.H., The Constitution of Malaysia, Its Development 1957–1977 (Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1978) at 7 which states that “the powers conferred by the Act were not, initially at least, abused, nor was the Act originally designed to afford a weapon against political opponents, other than those dedicated to violence as a means of persuasion”.
SUHAKAM, , Review of the Internal Security Act 1960 (Kuala Lumpur: SUHAKAM, 2003).
140. See Karam Singh v. Menteri Hal Ehwal Dalam Negeri, Malaysia (1969) 2 Malaysian Law Journal 129.
141. LIM, Kit Siang and LIM, Kit Siang, “Unjust Order: Malaysia’s Internal Security Act” (2003) 26 Fordham International Law Journal 1345.
143. The operation was carried out on 27 October 1987. One hundred and six persons were arrested under the Internal Security Act. Two dailies, The Star and Sin Chew Jit Poh, and two weeklies, The Sunday Star and Watan, had their publishing licences revoked.
144. International Federation for Human Rights, “Malaysia—Mortgaging Freedom for Security: Arbitrary Detention of Five HINDRAF Leaders”, Occasional Report No. 495/2, May 2008 at 5.
146. See SUHAKAM, supra note 139 at 83.
148. Vohrah, supra note 137.
149. In a statement signed by SUHAKAM secretary Hashimah Nik Jaafar, SUHAKAM said that preventive detention without trial was an infringement of human rights, and that after SUHAKAM’s initial 2003 study on the ISA and submission of its report to the government recommending the repeal of the Act, SUHAKAM’s further annual reports had maintained the Commission's stance on the ISA. The statement was refuting the comments made by the Minister of Home Affairs, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, who said that SUHAKAM’s view on the ISA was its “own perspective and that SUHAKAM should submit its views to the Government”. See SUHAKAM, “Press Statement: Government Should Repeal the ISA and Amend Act 597” (15 December 2008), online: SUHAKAM 〈www.suhakam.org.my/docs/press_room/PS23_repeal_isa_amend_act_151208.pdf〉.
150. See SUHAKAM, supra note 139 at 99.
152. Human Rights Watch, “Submission to the UPR Review of Malaysia” (September 2008), online: Forum-Asia 〈www.forum-asia.org/news/press_releases/pdfs/2008/HRW-Malaysia%20UPR%202008.pdf〉. (The Malaysian government has not responded to a request for a visit by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, nor has it responded to his request for information related to ISA detention.)
153. SUHAKAM, Annual Report 2006 (Kuala Lumpur: SUHAKAM, 2006) at 109.
155. “DAP calls for a serious consultation process, involving a Cabinet Committee, an all-party parliamentary working group and nation-wide discussions on Suhakam’s most commendable review and recommendations for repeal of ISA and its replacement by a new comprehensive human rights-sensitive national security legislation”. See LIM Kit Siang, Media Statement, (10 April 2003), online: Democratic Action Party Malaysia 〈www.dapmalaysia.org/all-archive/English/2003/apr03/lks/lks2248.htm〉.
156. “MPs Yet to Discuss SUHAKAM Issues”, New Straits Times (22 May 2008).
157. See “Malaysia, UN Review Should Challenge Rights Record” (9 February 2009), online: Human Rights Watch 〈www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/02/09/malaysia-un-review-should-challenge-rights-record〉 which stated:
One of the journalists, Raja Petra Lamarudin, founder and editor of Malaysia Today, Malaysia's most popular website, is now on trial for sedition. In December 2007, five leaders of the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) were charged under ISA after the organization staged a demonstration to draw attention to education and economic policies that discriminate against Malaysia's Indian population. These five remain in detention.
158. Interview with Andrew Khoo, Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur (31 July 2008):
The law provides that SUHAKAM has to present an annual report to parliament, which it does, but parliament doesn’t discuss it. So nobody picks up the report, there’s no debate in parliament about human rights and even the oppostion members don’t bring it up very much. Which is why there has been criticism of SUHAKAM as a toothless tiger. And basically to a certain extent we would have to agree that’s true. I mean there’s been some very good recommendations, about amendment of laws and also the repeal of some draconian laws. There is the Internal Security Act, for example. SUHAKAM has called for the reform of the Internal Security Act. It recognises on the one hand the need for the government to protect national security but it feels there’s too much internal security, it’s far too draconian.
159. Thio, supra note 96 at 19.
160. DrSHAROM, Azni, “High Hopes on SUHAKAM Which Has Little Power” The Star (5 March 2009).
161. ANNI Joint Press Statement, “Imminent Downgrading of SUHAKAM: Government Must Take Action” (25 July 2008).
162. See SUHAKAM, supra note 139, para. 4.
163. At the 2002 APF Annual Meeting, during the consideration of SUHAKAM’s application for membership, the Fiji Human Rights Commission (FHRC) had raised two concerns about SUHAKAM’s compliance with the Paris Principles. The FHRC questioned SUHAKAM’s policy on equality and the right to be free from unfair discrimination, suggesting that the Paris Principles requirement that “a national institution shall be vested with competence to protect and promote human rights” was not satisfied unless a Commission was empowered to (and took actual steps to) protect the fundamental right to equality. The FHRC also questioned whether SUHAKAM satisfied the Paris Principles requirement of pluralism, arguing that “there is no provision for representatives from the private sector, such as companies or corporations”, a reference to those SUHAKAM commissioners who held directorships in public and private companies. Forum Council representatives from Australia, India, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka spoke in support of SUHAKAM’s application for membership, and Malaysia was ultimately accepted as a full member of the APF; see Asia Pacific Forum, “Seventh Annual Meeting Report” (2002), online: APF 〈www.asiapacificforum.net/about/annual-meetings/7th-india-2002/downloads/final.pdf〉.
164. The 13th Annual Meeting of the APF brought together two hundred participants from thirty-one countries in the Asia Pacific region.
165. Afghanistan, Australia, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Timor Leste (full members); the Palestinian Territories, Qatar, the Maldives (associate members).
166. Kerry Rea (Australia) and Zaid Ibrahim (Malaysia).
167. Representatives of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and its National Institutions Unit attended the meeting, as did the International Co-ordinating Committee’s Chair, Jennifer Lynch QC.
168. International NGOs represented included the International Service for Human Rights and the International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
169. Until August 2009, when at its 14th Annual Meeting the APF Council decided to adopt the ICC accreditation decisions as its own criterion for membership, the APF had its own independent membership procedures. The difference between the two procedures was that ICC procedure involves regular reviews of status, while the APF procedures contemplated only an ad hoc review of status, triggered by a request from the NHRI in question or instituted by the Forum Council in response to actions of a NHRI or its government: See Byrnes et al., supra note 13.
170. Interview with Malaysian NGO member (28 July 2008).
171. ANNI also includes NGOs from some countries/regions with NHRIs that are not recognized by the APF or the ICC, such as Taiwan.
172. ANNI, The Performance of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia 2006: Cooperation with NGOs and Relationship with Governments (Bangkok: Forum-Asia, 2007).
173. Cardenas, supra note 6 at 1; Cardenas, supra note 3 at 23.
174. ANNI, Report on the Performance and Establishment of National Human Rights Institutions in Asia (Bangkok: Forum-Asia, 2008).
175. Interview with John Liu, SUARAM, Kuala Lumpur (4 August 2008).
176. ICC Sub-Committee on Accreditation, “Report and Recommendations of the Session of the ICC Sub-Committee on Accreditation” (March 2009), online: NHRI Forum 〈www.nhri.net/2009/SCA_REPORT_March%202009%20Session_(English).pdf〉; section 2.4 provides “The Sub-Committee considered information from civil society. The Sub-Committee shared that information with the concerned NHRIs and considered their responses.”
177. DAMIS, Aniza, “SUHAKAM Treads an Arduous Path” New Strait Times (3 August 2008).
178. Interview with Simon Sipaun, supra note 81.
183. Government of Malaysia, “Opening Statement by the H.E. Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, Secretary-General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia”, Fourth Working Group on Universal Periodic Review (11 February 2009) at 6, para. 31.
186. Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 (Amendment) Bill (2009), s. 11(A).
194. “Two More Changes to Suhakam Act” The Star (8 May 2009).
196. See “Special Review of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia to the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions” (November 2009), online: NHRI Forum 〈www.nhri.net/default.asp?PID=606&DID=0〉. The SCA did note, however, that “these amendments may not, in practice, address all the concerns that were raised in previous session”, in particular, (1) the selection of civil society representatives on the committee is at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister and (2) decisions of the selection committee are only recommendatory, since the Prime Minister is not bound by them. The SCA also noted that the adoption of “Key Performance Indicators” for use in the reappointment and dismissal of Commissioners had yet to occur.
197. Interview with Andrew Khoo, Deputy Chair of the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Council of Malaysia, in Kuala Lumpur (31 July 2008).
198. Cardenas, supra note 6, at 23.