Human Rights training programme at Malacca Multimedia University

  • By AdminL
  • February 24, 2009
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Human Rights training

The Human Rights & Contemporary Issues Committee of the Malacca Bar organized a training programme in collaboration with the Bar Council Human Rights Committee (BCHRC) and the Law Faculty of Malacca Multimedia University (MMU) on 21st February 2009 at MMU campus.

HR training

The speakers were Bar Council Human Rights Committee Chairman Edmund Bon, Roger Chan, Amer Hamzah Arshad, Sahadevan, Shanmuga and Chin Oy Sim from the Bar Council Secretariat and other members of the BCHRC. Around 150 participants attended the training which consists mostly of MMU students together with legal practitioners and members of the NGOs.

HR training

The training’s agenda was to raise the level of awareness and consciousness amongst the undergraduate students of the human rights principles, current issues relating to human rights and challenges faced by human rights activists in dealing with infringement of rights.

 

With Desmond Ho as the moderator, the four-hour training kicked off at 9am after a brief welcome speech by the BCHRC chairman Edmund Bon and Malacca Bar’s Human Rights Sub-committee chairman Anthony Chua. Before the start of each module, interactive sessions on “Where do you stand?” were conducted by Chin Oy Sim whereby questions were posed to the floor with the aim to invite participants to put on their thinking cap and to also learn to take a view point on the contemporary issues affecting them. The interactive sessions were well-received towards the second half of the training.

 

 

The first session was entitled “Freedom of Speech and Expression”. Shanmuga emphasized that the Federal Constitution is the underlining law and other laws would have to be consistent with the Constitution. He further discussed the protections and restrictions provided for under the Constitution and highlighted that freedom of expression as stated in the Constitution should not stop people from expressing their views and opinions. However, Article 10 (1)(a) of the Constitution which stated that every citizen has the right to freedom of speech and expression failed to include foreigners and permanent residents. In his presentation, he also gave a general overview of the Sedition Act 1948, principles in Civil and Criminal Defamation and the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984.

 

 

The topic on “Abuse of Police Powers and the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)” was the next session in line. Roger Chan enlightened the participants of the two major incidents whereby there was abuse of police powers even before a person is arrested, namely the Suria KLCC or Bloody Sunday incident and the Bandar Mahkota Cheras incident. One clear cut situation of abuse of police powers is the blatant disregard of safeguards of arrested persons under the new Section 28A of Criminal Procedure Code where rights of person arrested to be informed of grounds of arrest and rights to communicate with family or legal representatives were revoked.

 

 

The second speaker on the same topic was Sahadevan who spoke on the need for an anti-abuse mechanism such as the IPCMC. The IPCMC was a royal commission set up to look into the incidents of abuse of police powers. Participants were also briefed on the differences between the Special Complaints Commissions (SCC) and IPCMC.

Amer Hamzah Arshad took the floor in the third session with his presentation on “Issues affecting Migrants and Refugees”.

 

 

The input session was interesting as participants were given an exposure to the plight of refugees in Malaysia. Amer Hamzah highlighted the distinction between refugees and undocumented economic migrants in that undocumented economic migrants leave their country voluntarily to seek a better life while refugees leave their country due to fear of persecution on grounds of race or religion and cannot return home due to this reason.

 

 

He gave a brief overview of the principle of non-refoulement which prohibits states from returning a refugee or asylum seeker to territories where there is a risk that his life, liberty and freedom would be threatened on account of race or religion. The principle of non-refoulement is an accepted customary international law, which is binding on Malaysia. He further opined that even though Malaysia is not a member to the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees 1951, it is a member to the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 22 of the CRC specifically endorses the rights of refugees and asylum seekers to the appropriate protection and humanitarian assistance.

 

 

Amer was of the view that refugees could and should not be governed or subject to the provisions of the Immigration Act 1959/63, in particular section 6(1). He submits that Malaysia has a moral and social, if not legal, obligation to render assistance and protection to refugees.

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The final session on the programme was a brain storming session led by Edmund Bon and the Human Rights Committee team where participants were divided into groups and they were asked to list down three effective methods or means by which the ISA could be repealed and on another interesting issue of whether UiTM should be open to every Malaysian. Interesting ideas and arguments were presented by both schools of thought on the two issues.

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The training programme ended with a closing speech by Desmond Ho wherein he thanked everyone present for their effort and participation. Souvenirs were presented by the Malacca Bar Committee to both the Law Faculty of MMU and the BCHRC.  

 HR training

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