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UN rights office hails Malaysia’s intention to repeal colonial-era Sedition Act

13 July 2012 – The United Nations human rights office today welcomed the announcement by the Malaysian Government that it will repeal a 1948 law that curbed free speech and freedom of expression in the South-east Asian nation.

“We call on the Government to ensure the consistency of the proposed new law, the National Harmony Act, with international human rights standards,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), told reporters in Geneva.

Ms. Shamdasani said that there have been concerns in the past about the way in which some reforms have been rapidly processed, without much public consultation.

“We call on the Government to use this opportunity to conduct a genuine and meaningful consultation with relevant national institutions, including the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, and civil society, to ensure that the new legislation is indeed in full compliance with international law and norms,” said Ms. Shamdasani, adding that OHCHR stands ready to help in this process.

She added that an early ratification of the core human rights treaties, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, would also reaffirm Malaysia’s commitment towards improving the protection of human rights in the country.

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