The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Malaysia to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Malaysia's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
A more open and democratic Malaysia that protects human rights will be a more stable and effective partner in security and economic arenas. The U.S. Government's democracy strategy supports the country's long-term stability, including judicial independence and rule of law. The U.S. Government seeks to help bring the country into the international human rights mainstream by supporting Malaysia's full implementation of its antitrafficking law; encouraging Malaysia to recognize refugees' status while cooperating with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and sustaining the large U.S. resettlement program; and urging adoption of international migrant worker standards.
The U.S. Government advocates for the country's ratification of outstanding fundamental human rights instruments related to human rights, refugees, and labor, such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The U.S. Government also focuses on fostering a more vibrant civil society and a freer media, while promoting strong and accountable democratic institutions. Long-term success depends on improvement in the diffusion of checks and balances in society.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
U.S. officials use bilateral meetings, speeches, and interviews to highlight the importance of enhanced democratic institutions. The United States supports civil society activities related to democracy, including the role of the media in the democratic process. Other democracy programming includes nonpartisan projects that promote citizen participation in the political process and guest speaker programs that promote democratic values and traditions. The U.S. Government has facilitated several small grants to foster freedom of speech and to bolster civil society institutions. One such grant supports community groups in East Malaysia as they develop skills in "Citizen Journalism" to express their needs and issues. Through the International Visitor Leadership Program, the U.S. Government sent 30 individuals to the United States, including three to participate in programs on government accountability, two to programs promoting journalistic standards in a democracy, eight to programs on combating trafficking in persons, and five to programs on the rule of law at the state and local levels.
U.S. efforts to promote media freedom center on the availability and free flow of public information. In 2009 three full-day seminars were held, led by a visiting journalism professor from an American university, on feature reporting and journalism ethics for approximately 45 local journalists. In 2010 U.S. officials delivered public presentations on "Gov 2.0" and related topics, explaining to Malaysian audiences how U.S. government agencies are utilizing new technology to make information more available and accessible to the public. The U.S. Government has planned a number of programs that address democracy and human rights issues, including the U.S. Speaker programs on topics such as trafficking in persons and on U.S. midterm elections. Ongoing English enrichment programs, such as the ACCESS Microscholarship program, offer lessons to over 120 youths that deal with topics such as democracy and civic responsibilities. Lastly, there are seven and soon to be eight Lincoln Corners (dedicated library areas within a variety of host institutions that provide access to current information about the United States via book collections, periodicals, the Internet, multimedia, and local programming for the general public) offering information on topics such as freedom of information and freedom of the press.
U.S. officials use bilateral meetings and speeches to promote greater respect for human rights. Through meetings with the government, civil society, and international organizations, U.S. officials advocate for an increase in protection of vulnerable groups such as refugees, migrant workers, and trafficking victims. After substantial efforts, the U.S. Government experienced notable improvement in its coordination with the government on trafficking in persons issues. U.S. officials in the country also work with NGOs and international organizations to assist with the health and education needs of refugees. The United States supports international NGOs and civil society efforts to combat trafficking in persons for sexual and labor exploitation and encourages the government to address trafficking in persons. The U.S. Government regularly shares information on international best practices with local government agencies responsible for combating trafficking and assisting trafficking victims.