Biweekly Human Rights Roundup

Threat Against Media, Aid Distribution Logistics, Struggles of Migrant Workers in the MCO… Human Rights Round-up (17/04/2020)

  1. Concerns on inmates
17 April 1
(Yusof Mat Isa)


As of now, no public official has responded to the concern of prison conditions susceptible to Covid-19, but former government security and health experts have expressed their views on the matter. 

Retired IGP Tan Sri Musa Hasan recommended granting minor offenders with good behaviour early release and probation. However, if prison authorities have taken steps to implement social distancing and keep the cells clean, such a move is unnecessary. 

Meanwhile, neighbouring country Indonesia has released more than 36,550 inmates in a desperate bid to stop coronavirus from rampaging through its overcrowded prison system.

2. Threat against media affects government credibility – Article 19


17 April 3
(Article 19)

#PressFreedom #FreedomofSpeech 

Article 19 (British human rights organisation) commented on the Senior Minister’s announcement that action will be taken on media who misreport government statements, that a free, safe and independent media is needed during the public health crisis to provide information and deliver the policies of government to the public.

Article 19 urged the government should protect the journalists and media instead of undermining them ie imposing measures that will limit speech and access to information, adding that policies that attack journalists would result in a loss of credibility for governments.

3. Domestic violence in the MCO

17 April 4


There has been a rise of concerns regarding domestic violence during this MCO – and people are right. Research has shown why family violence escalates during Covid-19 outbreak : 

  1. Pandemics are usually situations in which people’s lives seem out of control. This may trigger abusers to lash out against victims in order to regain some semblance of control over a situation. 
  2. Containment measures increase time spent together. This heightens stress at home, as abusers and victims find themselves in close proximity 24/7.

iii. The pandemic is likely to push the world economy into recession, which will make it even more difficult for victims to leave abusive relationships.

Further, statistics show that during such crisis, the burden of household and caregiver activities fall disproportionately on women and girls, forcing some to leave their jobs to focus on domestic affairs. This would increase financial dependency on their abusers.

However, thanks to our dedicated defenders, WAO has extended their hotline to 24 hours a day, and scaled up publicity for their online resources through radio, television and the internet. WAO is also working with the Malaysian police and welfare department to inform survivors that the police are still conducting rescues during this difficult period. Go get them!

4. Aid distribution logistics issue can be solved with NGOs

17 April 5


The lack of coordination on the government’s support measures for the Orang Asli is causing both overlaps and insufficiencies in aid.

COAC coordinator Colin Nicholas said the government’s aid packages were all uniform, not taking into consideration the specific supplies different families need. “Some communities don’t need certain things, some may want milk powder for their babies. Some families are just two persons, while some have 11 people,” he said.

Nicholas urged Putrajaya to recognize the problem and consult the relevant NGOs and organizations. COAC managed to resolve the issue of logistics by directing monetary aid to the village leaders who then purchased the required supplies according to the community’s needs. After all, it is the leaders on the ground who know their situation better – how many, how much and who to give. 

5. Struggles of migrant workers in the MCO

17 April 6
(World of Buzz / Free Malaysia Today. The Star)

#MigrantsRights #RefugeeRights

Daily wage foreign workers, both documented and undocumented, are among the hardest hit due to the temporary halt in most job sectors.

It is said that their biggest challenge is paying rent, followed by insufficient food. Some are struggling with water and electricity bills, resulting in a cut of supply, and paying to see the doctor when unwell. 

Refuge for Refugees received over 50 calls asking for food. In Ampang, a volunteer told FMT that at least four NGOs had run out of stock.

If you would like to help, the avenues can be found at the bottom of these pages:

i. Migrant workers and refugees cry for help

ii. NGOs Are Struggling To Help The Refugees Amidst MCO As They Are Now Low On Food Stockrefugees-amidst-mco-as-they-are-now-low-on-food-stock/


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