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End Harassment, Prosecutions of Critics

(Bangkok) – Malaysia’s new prime minister, Ismail Sabri Yaakob, should commit to respect the rights to free speech and peaceful assembly, which have long been suppressed in the country, Human Rights Watch said today. Malaysia’s king appointed Ismail…
202108asia_malaysia_protest
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Surge in Police Harassment of Journalists, Activists, Protesters

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian authorities are increasingly using criminal investigations to harass journalists, protest leaders, and various other critics of the government, Human Rights Watch said today. Many are facing potential prosecution and have…
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With GE15 on the horizon, there is a grave risk that arrests will continue to rise. Respect for freedom of speech in Malaysia is in free fall - a decline illustrated by two recent arrests. On the evening of Friday, April 23, seven police…
Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin attending parliament session at parliament lower house in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, July 13, 2020.
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New Law Criminalizes Expression, Violates Privacy Rights

(Bangkok) – Malaysian authorities should revoke a new “fake news” ordinance that poses a serious threat to freedom of expression and privacy and the right to a fair trial, Human Rights Watch said today. The Emergency (Essential Powers) (No. 2)…
A television shows a live broadcast of Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin at a shopping outlet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. 
News

Decision Holding Portals Liable Poses Serious Risk to Freedom of Speech

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian Federal Court decision holding an online news site responsible for reader comments contravenes international human rights standards and will chill free speech in Malaysia, Human Rights Watch said today. The court on…
Malaysiakini's editor-in-chief Steven Gan speaks to the media at the Federal Court in in Putrajaya, Malaysia on February 19, 2021. 
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February 15, 2021 Human Rights Watch Submission to the Ministry of Unification Regarding the Interpretation Guidelines of the Amendments of the Development of Inter-Korean Relations Act We are writing in response to your call for comments regarding…
China: Don’t Force 8 Refugees Back to North Korea PHOTO
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Immunity, Police Powers for Military Raise Risk of Abuse

(Bangkok) – Malaysia’s recently announced Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance is overly broad and should urgently be revised to meet international human rights standards, Human Rights Watch said today. The ordinance, announced on January 14,…
Perdana Menteri Malaysia Muhyiddin Yassin berbicara dalam sebuah konferensi pers setelah pertemuan kabinet pertama di kantor perdana menteri di Putrajaya, Malaysia, 11 Maret 2020.
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Kim Jong Un Uses Pandemic to Further Isolate Population

(New York, January 13, 2021) – North Korea’s government used unnecessary and opaque Covid-19 restrictions in 2020 to reinforce its standing as one of the world’s most repressive countries, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2021. Under…
Kim Song Ju Primary school students have their temperatures checked before entering the school in Pyongyang, North Korea. 
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Law Would Block South Koreans from Sending Materials North

(New York) – The South Korean National Assembly should reject a proposed law that would criminalize sending leaflets, information, money, and other items to North Korea, Human Rights Watch said today. If enacted, the law would violate South Koreans’…
People watch a news program showing an image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, right, at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea on Friday, Sept. 25, 2020. 
Report
Summary In late 2014, police officers entered the home of Lim Ok Kyung, a smuggler in her forties from North Korea’s South Hwanghae province. The police were looking for, and found, home appliances smuggled from China. Lim Ok Kyung was detained at a…
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Torture, Lack of Due Process, Arbitrary Punishment, Corruption Rampant

(Seoul) – The North Korean pretrial detention and investigation system is arbitrary and lacks any semblance of due process, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Former detainees described systematic torture, dangerous and unhygienic…
An overhead illustration of people in a crowded jail cell
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Political Crackdown with Targeted Reviews, Inspections Prompts Fears

(New York) – The South Korean government is targeting activist organizations that focus on North Korea’s human rights problems for special review in an apparent effort to intimidate them, Human Rights Watch said today. Tensions between the South…
Activist Park Sang-hak holds a leaflet depicting the death of Kim Jong Nam, half-brother to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, during a press conference in Seoul on July 6, 2020. © 2020 Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images
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Arrest of Bangladeshi in Documentary Violates Free Speech Rights

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian authorities’ arrest of a Bangladeshi migrant worker who was featured in an Al Jazeera documentary is clear retaliation for his criticism of government policies towards migrants, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities…
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Abusive Investigations for Critical Speech on the Rise

(Bangkok) – Malaysian authorities are increasingly responding to criticism of the government by initiating criminal investigations, Human Rights Watch said today. Journalists, civil society activists, and ordinary people have all recently faced…
Perdana Menteri Malaysia Muhyiddin Yassin berbicara dalam sebuah konferensi pers setelah pertemuan kabinet pertama di kantor perdana menteri di Putrajaya, Malaysia, 11 Maret 2020.
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Coalition Urges President Moon to Toughen Position on Human Rights

(Seoul) – The South Korean government should re-engage on promoting accountability for human rights abuses in North Korea, said a coalition of rights-oriented groups said today. The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity…
South Korean President Moon Jae In delivers a speech in Seoul on March 1, 2020, in a ceremony to mark the 101st anniversary of the founding of a Korean independence movement against Japanese colonial rule.
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Backtracking on Free Expression, Accountability, LGBT Rights

(Bangkok) – Malaysia’s promised human rights reforms stalled in 2019 as the government either backed away from or delayed action on its campaign commitments, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2020. “Malaysia’s reform…
Protesters hold placards reading " Save Malaysia, Arrest the Thief " during a protest in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, April 14, 2018.
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Keep Pledge to Repeal Abusive Laws

(New York) – The Malaysian government should reinstate its moratorium on using the Sedition Act pending the law’s repeal, Human Rights Watch said today. Previous Malaysian governments have used the broadly-worded law, which goes well beyond…
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad listens to questions during an interview with foreign media on one years anniversary of government in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Thursday, May 9, 2019.
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Keep Election Promise to Abolish National Security Council Act

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian government is breaking a key election pledge by proposing to amend rather than repeal an abusive national security law, Human Rights Watch said today. The government on April 9, 2019, put before Parliament a bill to amend…
Section from Malaysia ruling party’s election manifesto, “Buku Harapan: Rebuilding Our Nation, Fulfilling Our Hopes,” promising to repeal abusive laws including the National Security Act of 2016.
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Repeal Draconian Sedition Act

(New York) – The Malaysian authorities should halt the investigation targeting organizers of the Women’s March in Kuala Lumpur on March 9, 2019, Human Rights Watch said today. The march’s organizers are being investigated for possible violations of…
Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, left, passes the opening speech to King Sultan Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah during the opening of the 14th parliament session at the Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, March 11, 2019.
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New Government Faces Challenges in Carrying Out Reforms

(New York) – Malaysia’s human rights situation improved significantly in 2018 after the election of a new government that ran on a manifesto promising make the country’s rights record “respected by the world,” Human Rights Watch said today in…
Attendees hold up smartphones and wave Malaysian national flags and People's Justice Party flags at a Pakatan Harapan alliance event in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.