Govt urged to uphold rights to freedom of religion, beliefs

A statue of Lady Justice. — DayakDaily.com file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, June 19: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) claims that violations of the rights to freedom of religion or belief continued last year, with cases of individuals challenging state law regarding apostasy from Islam.

Among the cases quoted in its ‘Malaysia Human Rights Report 2017: Civil and Political Rights’ publication is the landmark case of Jenny, Tiong and Salina and a few other apostasy cases, in which all their appeals to renounce Islam were dismissed by the courts.

In February this year, the Federal Court here dismissed the appeals of Jenny, Tiong and Salina. It also dismissed an additional appeal by Syarifah Nooraffyzza Wan Hosen, who was born a Muslim but embraced Christianity later in life.

The court ruled that the civil court had no jurisdiction to hear cases of conversion out of Islam because only the Syariah Court could do so.

In view of this, SUARAM urged the state and federal governments to abide by Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution guaranteeing “the right to profess and practise religion” and also ensure that all existing legislation dealing with freedom of religion and belief are in line with international human rights standards;

The non-governmental organisation (NGO) also recommended that the authority abide by all relevant articles of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), to which Malaysia is bound.

Other recommendations include immediately ratifying the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and incorporate its provisions into domestic legislation as well as immediately extend an invitation to the United Nations Special Rapporteur (UNSR) on freedom of religion and belief for an official country visit as requested by the UNSR in 2006. — DayakDaily