Suhakam: End corporal punishment in Malaysia

Yiswaree Palanisamy
Suhakam reminded Putrajaya that Muslim women here were disadvantaged owing to the interpretation of Shariah laws. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) joined others in urging the government to end all forms of corporal punishments following the controversial caning of two women in Terengganu over same-sex relations.

It accused the Kuala Terengganu Shariah Court of deliberately humiliating the women by allowing the media to observe the caning of the two alleged lesbians.

Suhakam noted that the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and Convention Against Torture all prohibit torture and other forms “cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” including corporal punishment.

“Suhakam calls for a repeal of such punishments in all laws, both civil and Shariah to be in compliance with international standards.

“While Suhakam is aware that the law provides for punishment by caning, the court ought to have exercised judicial discretion, in accordance with principles of compassion, mercy and human dignity in Islam.

“Suhakam does not accept that the choice and mode of punishment were intended to educate because a cultured, civilised, moderate and progressive society would not resort to fear and humiliation as a legitimate method or tool for education,” it said in a statement.

It also reminded Putrajaya of the country’s recent review by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), in which it was emphasised that Muslim women here were disadvantaged owing to the interpretation of Shariah laws.

Suhakam said this was against the constitutional right to equality.

“Despite international criticism, the government and Parliament have not taken any tangible stepfor change on the ground. Suhakam cautions the government that undermining Malaysia’s international human rights obligations rather than to uphold them would not be in the best interest of progress and success,” it added.

Yesterday, two women found guilty for attempting to have lesbian sex were caned six times in public at the Terengganu Shariah Court as around 100 people watched the punishment.

The punishment drew worldwide condemnation, with federal minister in charge of religious affairs Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa saying public presence during the sentencing should be reviewed.

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