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NGOs want M'sia to ratify ICERD

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icerd-logoMalaysian civil society groups have called upon members of the public to sign a petition urging the government to ratify the International Convention on Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

The online campaign was launched on July 5 by 34 NGOs seeking to commit the Malaysian government to ICERD which promotes equality and unity among all races.

ICERD defines racial discrimination and requires its signatories to create mechanisms to minimize racial discrimination, and has been ratified by 175 countries to date. Malaysia is in the company of North Korea, Myanmar and a dozen other authoritarian countries that have yet to endorse the convention.

The NGO coalition feels that the situation of Malaysia sitting on the Human Rights Council is anomalous to the country’s failure to ratify ICERD which condemns any group or organization perpetuating racial discrimination.

Agreeing to the ICERD terms will necessarily compel Malaysia to look into and change national laws and policies which promote racial discrimination.

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Jerald Joseph, chairman of the working group on national ratification of ICERD, was quoted as saying: “We want the government to move away from racial policies and make all races equal. There should no longer only be one dominant race in Malaysia.”

He says the Najib administration must demonstrate the political will to ratify the convention by this year as promised.

It crucial that Malaysia be part of ICERD, say the civil society groups, because issues of race and religion are increasingly causing controversy and tension among the people.

The online petition can be viewed here.

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