[JURIST] Civil rights groups on Wednesday publicly condemned [text, PDF] Malaysia's "empty promises" to strengthen civil and political rights in the country. Amnesty International (AI) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) [advocacy websites] claimed that authorities "failed to adequately respond to many of the questions raised by UN member states and were unable to give clear action plans or timelines on many of the key issues." Freedom of speech and peaceful assembly are reportedly still curtailed, given the various laws acting against exercise of such rights. Moreover, there are concerns that individuals can be detained without charge or trial and that those detainees are subject to torture, ill-treatment and death. The human rights groups found that Malaysia performed at least two executions in 2013, despite its 2012 announcement of de-facto moratorium on executions.
Malaysia was subject to criticism over its human rights records. Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] condemned [JURIST report] the country's proposed amendments to the Prevention of Crime Act 1959 that would reinstate detention without trial for certain individuals with criminal histories. In May the Malaysian Ministry of Home Affairs [official website, in Malay] seized more than 2,500 copies of newspapers [JURIST report] published by opposition parties. The Ministry stated that the seized newspapers were sold in violation of their publication licenses, which limit the distribution of opposition party newspapers to party members, not public retail sale. In October 2012 a Malaysian court awarded damages [JURIST report] to a group of five opposition politicians and activists who were unlawfully detained pursuant to the country's controversial Internal Security Act of 1960 (ISA) that permits indefinite detention without trial for terror suspects, dissidents and political opponents.