(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): In Langkawi on Sunday, the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Dr. Rais Yatim accused the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union nations of violating the International Recognition of Judicial Process in attacking Malaysia over its handling of the criminal cases against former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. (Star August 14, 2000).
He said that under the United Nations-approved "understanding,'' no country should criticise the legal process of another member country.
He said the nations which had criticised the Malaysian Judiciary recently were clearly violating such an agreement although they were all signatories.
Rais Yatim’s claim had produced an all-round astonishment as nobody has ever heard of the so-called "International Recognition of Judicial Process". Can Rais make public the contents, signatories and when this United Nations agreement was adopted?
I have never heard of such an United Nations agreement barring countries from criticising the legal process of another member country. Intensive search on the Internet has failed to produce such a United Nations instrument. I have asked legal experts knowledgeable in this field and nobody has ever heard of it. I have even checked with the United Nations Special Rapporteur for the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Dato’ Param Cumaraswamy who has been occupying this important international office for the past six years since 1994 and should know more than any othe person in the world about such an instrument.
Param tells me that he had also been trying to discover the existence of the International Recognition of Judicial Process since the press report of Rais’ statement on Monday. He had even contacted the United Nations in New York but has not been able to find such an instrument.
Rais Yatim should not produce a fictitious international instrument supposedly known as the International Recognition of Judicial Process to defend the Malaysian government from criticisms of the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and European Union for its political persecution of Anwar.
Rais Yatim should realise that such an instrument would make a mockery of various international human rights instruments and declarations, in particular the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action of the 1993 World Conference on Human Rights unanimously adopted by 171 United Nations member states including Malaysia which declared that "the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community".
As the right to justice, the rule of law and a competent, independent and impartial judiciary is one of the most important human rights, and a precondition to protect and promote the whole spectrum of other human rights, how can there be an international instrument as claimed by Rais which negates the principle that the promotion and protection of human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community by barring countries from criticising the flagrant violations of the just rule of law and a truly independent judiciary of another country?
Rais had also blasted Australia for criticising Malaysia by saying that Australian leaders had no right to comment on the country's Judiciary.
Malaysia should uphold the principle entrenched in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that "the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community" and add its voice to international opinion and pressure to demand that Australia respect Aboriginal rights and in particular pay fulsome compensation to the "stolen generation".
This is particularly pertinent as the judge, Justice Maurice O'Loughlin who dismissed the claims for monetary compensation had also said:
This will tantamount to an international conspiracy to subvert the principle propounded in the 1993 Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action that "the promotion and protection of all human rights is a legitimate concern of the international community".
The Malaysian government should be a strong voice in the international
arena to uphold human rights, including the Aboriginal rights in Australia,
but it should pay heed to national and international outrage at the system
of justice in Malaysia as highlighted by the Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Guan
Eng cases and take immediate steps to reform the judiciary to restore public
confidence in its independence, impartiality and integrity.