HRC 56: North South Initiative & SRI Statement on Malaysia UPR Adoption

Published on July 05, 2024

Human Rights Council 56th Session

Item 6: UPR Malaysia

Action Canada for Population and Development

Thank you President, Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the North South Initiative and the Sexual Rights Initiative.

We welcome the recommendations made to Malaysia on the ratification of the 1951 Refugee Convention (and its protocol) and regret the noting of the same. Malaysia currently fails to adequately recognise refugee status, and UNHCR registration provides only limited protection against arbitrary arrest, detention and refoulement. Malaysia is yet to provide clarity on how it determines the refugee status of detainees, and indeed the UNHCR has been denied access to immigration detention centres for almost five years now. This is concerning given current policies and the prevailing climate of xenophobia towards refugees and migrants. 

We welcome Malaysia’s acceptance of recommendations on the need to ensure that the rights of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants regardless of documentation status are respected, protected, and fulfilled, particularly as relates to the enjoyment of the rights to an adequate standard of living, health, education, and the right to work. We echo the CEDAW Committee’s recommendation that the government “ensure that National Security Council Directive No. 23 is published and consistent with international standards and provides full access to asylum procedures for persons seeking asylum in the State party as well as to education, health services, social protection, and legal assistance.” Currently, the vast majority of refugees live in poverty, as refugees simultaneously do not have a right to work, and do not receive support from the state in meeting their living costs. Lack of financial resources, and prohibitive costs for non-citizens, pose a serious barrier to access to education and healthcare. In such conditions of constraint, communities may deprioritise the education of girls, and delay seeking necessary health services, including maternal healthcare, until the last possible moment. Surgical interventions are particularly unattainable and access to mental health services is extremely limited.

We reiterate our calls on Malaysia to: 

  1. Ratify the UN Refugee Convention and ensure equitable access to justice for refugees
  2. Implement measures to permit refugees to work legally, improve their access to education, and equalise fees for healthcare services for all regardless of citizenship or documentation. 


Thank you