ARTICLE 19 and 14 other Malaysian civil society organisations have made a submission to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Malaysia, ahead of the country’s third review, due to take place in November 2018.
The submitting organisations observe that the situation for freedom of expression has deteriorated since Malaysia’s last UPR in 2013. In this submission, we address developments during this time period in the following areas:
- International commitments;
- Legal framework;
- Arrests, prosecutions and official harassment;
- Internet freedoms;
- Inclusion, diversity and pluralism;
- Freedom of peaceful assembly;
- Media freedom; and
- Access to information.
In Malaysia, the government closely controls the flow of information. Topics that are considered taboo are frequently censored, and criticism of the government and royal family repressed. Social media users, artists, human rights defenders, journalists and protesters are often targeted for prosecution, in particular after raising concerns about government corruption, including on online platforms.
The application of broad and vaguely-worded criminal laws which do not comply with international human rights law continue to be the government’s primary means to limit dissent. Arrests, prosecutions, and censorship punctuate the period under review, with a notable increase since 2015 in the application of the Communication and Multimedia Act 1998 (CMA) against those exercising their right to freedom of expression.
The social climate for freedom of expression has also become markedly more conservative, with populist calls for censorship and direct attacks against persons expressing minority viewpoints coming from private actors, often in the name of protecting religion.
The submission sets out recommendations which we urge states to make to the Malaysian government at its UPR, to address violations of the right to freedom of expression and other human rights issues.