[JURIST] Malaysian rights group Suaram [advocacy website] Thursday published its annual report [PDF text; press release] on the state of human rights in the country, saying that conditions had significantly worsened over the past year. The group cited the country's judicial fixing scandal [JURIST news archive] and lax prosecution of human rights offenders by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia [official website] as evidence of weak protections in the country. It also criticized the continued use of what it considers arcane preventative detention laws such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) [HRW backgrounder], under which it said more than 70 prisoners, including some human rights protesters [JURIST report], were still being held without charge. The group blames ineffective and unmotivated governmental institutions for the decline, and says it was this ineptitude which lead to the former ruling party's ouster in recent elections. AFP has more.
In May, Amnesty International Malaysia [advocacy website] also issued a release [text] condemning the country's rights record, and called for leaders to take more aggressive action to protect human rights. Earlier this month, Malaysian Law Minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim [firm profile] said [JURIST report] legal, possibly even constitutional, reforms were needed to safeguard the independence of the country's judiciary. In March, opposition leaders called for the release [JURIST report] of five members of the Hindu Rights Action Force held under the ISA accused of organizing a November street demonstration [TIME report] by thousands of the nation's ethnic Indians in Kuala Lumpur.