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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…
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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. 
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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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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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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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Jailing, Caning Refugees Violates International Law

(Bangkok) – Malaysian authorities should stop prosecuting Rohingya refugees for illegal entry and ensure that they are protected in accordance with international law, Human Rights Watch said today. At least 40 ethnic Rohingya who were picked up…
A boat carries Rohingya refugees off the coast of Langkawi, Malaysia, April 5, 2020.
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Ensure Freedom of Expression for All

A Bangladeshi migrant worker in Malaysia faces dire consequences for speaking out about the poor treatment of migrant workers in the country. Mohamed Rayhan Kabir spoke to Al Jazeera about Malaysia’s controversial roundup of undocumented migrants…
Screenshot from Al Jazeera's Locked Up in Malaysia's Lockdown | 101 East
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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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  What are your main concerns about the coronavirus in Asia? Because testing is so poor in most of Asia, we have no visibility about how widespread infections are. Overcrowded cities where social distancing is challenging or impossible also…
Factory workers wearing protective masks return to Dhaka from northern and southern districts in Bangladesh amid the government’s shutdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, April 4, 2020.
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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.
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New Government Backtracking on Rights Pledges

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian government’s proposed new law to protect the monarchy from “insults” is its latest backtracking on human rights promises, Human Rights Watch said today. On January 10, 2019, the minister in the Prime Minister’s…
Malaysia's newly elected Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad attends a news conference in Pataling Jaya, Malaysia, May 12, 2018. © 2018 REUTERS/Stringer
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New Government Steps Back from Reform Agenda

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian government should reconsider its decision to lift the moratorium on laws previously used to repress dissent, Human Rights Watch said today. The government announced on November 30, 2018, that the cabinet had lifted its…
Riot police members stand guard at the Seafield temple on November 27, 2018 in Subang Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia. The priest says there are criminal elements involved in the attack on the temple yesterday. Temple chief priest Jeyakumar Subramaniam said he s
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New Government Should Promptly Abolish Repressive Laws

Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, twice imprisoned on politically motivated sodomy and corruption charges, walked free from prison today with a full pardon. It was a day for celebration – for his family, his supporters, and for…
Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim, who was granted a royal pardon, arrives to speak to supporters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia May 16, 2018.