The Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia (JOAS) rejects the Malaysian Government’s explanation on why it has not accepted six recommendations related to Indigenous Peoples’ rights at the second cycle of the United Nations Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR).
At a press conference today, JOAS which comprises 83 community organisations, five c andidate members and five NGO affiliate members, said it was appalled by Malaysia’s response, particularly because at this UPR cycle, it had taken great pains to discuss with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, both in Kuala Lumpur and in Geneva, to accept its recommendations indigenous rights and had received positive response from them.
The six recommendations including allowing visits to Malaysia by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; ensuring that laws on indigenous peoples as well as their implementation comply with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and ensuring the rights of indigenous peoples and local forest dependent peoples in law and practice, in particular regarding their right to traditional lands, territories and resources.
The other recommendations are to establish an independent National Commission on Indigenous Peoples and ensure that laws, policies and their implementations are in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; establish an independent body to investigate disputes over land, territories and resources; and to take measures, with full and effective participation of indigenous peoples, to address the issues highlighted in the National Inquiry into the Land Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
A response report to the recommendations issued by the Government stated that Malaysia will continue to take steps to better protect and respect the human rights of its indigenous population. The Government further said that at present, a Task Force comprising senior government officials, civil society representatives and academicians are in the process of determining, inter alia, details on which recommendations can be implemented in the short, medium and long term.
It added that “as the Government does not wish to pre-judge the outcome of the Task Force’s deliberations, Malaysia is unable to accept these recommendations at this juncture.”
JOAS stressed that indigenous representatives in the Task Force comprise a mere 30 percent, and based on the report by these representatives to indigenous peoples, the discussions on key issues are very limited and are unable to counter the government representatives’ constant denial of the systemic violation of indigenous peoples’ land rights as highlighted by the SUHAKAM Report.
JOAS also said that the government failed to give any explanation for its rejection of the other important recommendations and the act by Malaysia to accept only general recomendations at the UPR shows its lack of seriousness in adressing the human rights violations and marginalisation of Indigenous Peoples.
JOAS lamented “Malaysia, as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, should not elude from it international obligations and fiduciary duty to protect the rights of Indigenous Peoples in line with the principles of international laws and decisions by the civil courts of the country. From the National Inquiry Report and the situation of Indigenous Peoples on the ground, our current laws and policies on indigenous land rights are far from satisfactory and are below human rights standards, particularly the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP)”.
“The reasoning by the Malaysian government to reject the recommendations because of the existence of the Task Force is unacceptable.
“This shows that the government is not sincere and shows no respect for the rights of Indigenous Peoples of Malaysia.
We are frustrated with the Malaysian government, and we will not respect a Government that does not respect us.”
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