Human Rights Commission  has omitted the important human right to the rule of law and a competent, independent and impartial judiciary

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday): The Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) is to be commended for announcing a complaints procedure outlining the process to lodge complaints when the public believe that their rights have been infringed or  violated.

Under the procedure, a complaint may be made in writing by an aggrieved person, a group or a person acting on behalf of them.

In the era of information technology, Suhakam should be able to entertain complaints through e-mail.

I am disappointed that Suhakam does not have a website as yet to introduce itself to the Malaysian public, where the complaints procedure could be easily available and I hoped that the Suhakam chairman, Tan Sri Musa Hitam would give the highest priority to harnessing information technology in the work to protect and promote human rights in Malaysia.

According to the Suhakam complaints procedure, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia is empowered to inquire into complaints of infringement or violation of human rights which "covers but is not limited to the following areas":

While I welcome the Human Rights Commissionís "unrestrictive definition" of  the term "human rights", it is most unfortunate that it has omitted an important human right in the list it has identified especially as this is a human right which has become one of the greatest current concerns - the human right to the rule of law and a competent, independent and impartial judiciary.

The Human Rights Commission Chairman Tan Sri Musa Hitam yesterday  declined to comment on the current "disputes" between the judiciary, the Bar and the executive saying that the Commission would "soon enough meet up with the judiciary for an exchange of views".

While one can understand Musaís reluctance to be embroiled in the entanglements among the Minister in the Prime Ministerís Department, the Judiciary and the Bar Council, there can be no good and acceptable reason for the omission by the Commission to identify the right to the rule of law and a competent, independent and impartial judiciary as among its list of prominent human right concerns.

The important right to justice as a precondition to protect and promote human rights  has been repeatedly declared and upheld in international human rights instruments, whether the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights or the International Covenants on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and on Civil and Political Rights.

The Preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in fact, states:

I hope the Commission can make amends in this important omission and spell out loud and clear that the right to the rule of law and a competent, independent and impartial judiciary, and factors which undermine their realisation, are among the Commissionís priority concerns.

I am heartened by the inclusion of "right to assemble peacefully and without arms" as among the identified lists of human rights concerns of the Commission, particularly as when he was Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister in the eighties, Musa had not protected or recognised this right.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman