PM: Human rights cause split

By Mazwin Nik Aziz, The Star

PERTH: Commonwealth countries have yet to decide on the appointment of a High Commissioner for Democracy, Rule of Law and Human Rights, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

But its members have agreed on the need to strengthen these principles, he added.

The Prime Minister said Commonwealth leaders had decided that the matter should be studied further to determine how each member country could further strengthen these values.

“We have accepted in principle the idea to strengthen rule of law, democracy and human rights.

“The only question is in what form it will take; whether there should be a High Commissioner, a deputy secretary-general post be created or the post of the Commonwealth secretary-general be further strengthened.

“We wanted a consensus on this, but we couldn’t get a consensus yet,” Najib told the Malaysian media here yesterday.

The Eminent Persons Group had recommended the appointment of the High Commissioner, which is among the 106 recommendations made to the Commonwealth lea-ders.

The group decided to refer the matter to the Commonwealth secretary-general and the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group for further action.

Najib said the leaders had also agreed for the Commonwealth to have its own Charter, which would be looked at by the foreign ministers.

“The Charter would be a consolidation of values and principles which the member states had agreed upon earlier,” he added.

“This is a good development for the Commonwealth as it will allow the rest of the world and future generations to know what the body is all about and what it stands for,” Najib said.

He added that the Charter would ensure that the Commonwealth would remain relevant.

“This is the way forward for the grouping and this will make it a more relevant organisation. We should see a more vibrant Commonwealth in the future,” he added.

Najib said the leaders also discussed climate change and steps to save small island states which were being threatened by it.