These recommendations were made at a human rights peer review when 193 member countries of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), including Malaysia, met in Geneva, Switzerland, last night.
The purpose of the gathering was to conduct a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on Malaysia, the second since 2009.
Many nations called on Malaysia to ratify the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as racism was clearly still a major issue in the country.
The United States urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to keep his word and abolish repressive laws such as the Sedition Act 1948 and the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984.
Other countries also echoed this call, arguing that it infringed on freedom of expression and media freedom.
The United States representative also expressed her country's concern at the recent amendments made to the Prevention of Crime Act, arguing that it should not be used against people who were exercising their freedom of expression.
During the UPR, each of country was given a minute and five seconds to voice their feedback on Malaysia's performance since the first review in 2009 and to give their respective proposals.
None of the Asean countries made any proposals nor did they criticise Malaysia.
Those from Europe, North and South America, however, were vocal in their proposals, especially concerning the manner in which human trafficking victims were treated here. They called on Malaysia to recognise international human rights standards.
One argument was that many human trafficking victims in Malaysia were held at government detention facilities without being afforded the freedom to go out and work.
Putrajaya was urged to give these victims the freedom to leave the detention centre and seek employment.
A crowd of about 50 people, including non-government organisations (NGO) representatives from Tenaganita, Sisters in Islam and Suaram, gathered at the Cafe 5 Cups in Plaza Damas 3, Sri Hartamas, last night to watch a live podcast of the UPR proceedings.
The crowd were animated in their response, cheering the European and American nations and booing Singapore, whose representative in Geneva claimed that Malaysia had done well in terms of free and fair elections and its human rights record.
The Slovakian representative said the excessive interference by the police needed to be resolved while another country said that Malaysian police should undergo human rights training.
Argentina urged Malaysia to stop discriminating against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people (LGBT).
Austria also drew cheers from the crowd with proposals for Malaysia to allow the freedom to practice and change religions.
The Austrian representative proposed that the Malaysian government grant media freedom to online news portals and bloggers.
Canada called on Malaysia to respect LBGT rights and not discriminate against them. There was almost unanimous disapproval against capital punishment in Malaysia, which is applicable to drug offences, murder, illegal possession of firearms and treason.
The Malaysian delegation at the UPR, led by Foreign Ministry deputy secretary-general for multilateral affairs, Datuk Ho May Yong, presented the country's points at the United Nation's headquarters in Geneva and addressed the advance questions presented by other countries.
The UPR process provides the opportunity for all 193 UN member states to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situation in their respective countries and how they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.
The UNHRC used Malaysia's national report, the UN agencies' report and the stakeholders report compiled by 28 NGOs as a basis of their review.
Putrajaya had been expected to come under the spotlight as many NGOs were still dissatisfied with the government's performance in tackling the issues raised by UN member states. – October 25, 2013.