Human rights-centric practices essential for foreign investment, says UN

KUALA LUMPUR: The United Nations (UN) said efforts to attract foreign investment into the country will be jeopardised if business practices are not human rights-oriented.

Its High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Turk, said the issues of business and human rights were among the matters discussed during the meeting held with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

"Business and human rights issues were part of our discussions because we know that when it comes to business practices.

"And if is not human rights-oriented, it will harm the future. Businesses and human rights (must) come together," he told reporters on Tuesday.

He said this in response to a question on if the exploitation of migrant workers will hurt Malaysia's efforts to attract foreign investment.

Turk is undertaking a working visit to Malaysia as part of the country's continued engagement and collaboration with the UN to raise human rights awareness and strengthen literacy for the enjoyment of human rights by fellow Malaysians.

Previously, the UN has raised alarm over the plight of Bangladeshi migrants in Malaysia, who had travelled with hopes of employment after engaging in the official labour migration process.

UN also said the situation of Bangladeshi migrants who lived in Malaysia for several months or longer was unsustainable and undignified.

Meanwhile, Turk also said based on his observation, Malaysia is now more open to discussing issues pertaining to migrant exploitation compared to 20 years ago.

Although the issue of human rights was never a comfortable topic, Turk stressed that it has always been of societal interest and must be further advocated.

"I think it is really important to put the issues of migrant workers on the table to be able to discuss them, (and) to be able to say let's have another look at the migratory framework.

"I think a much more comprehensive view is needed because sometimes the issue is only being dealt with by one ministry or another, but what you actually need is a comprehensive look at the whole migration system from the perspective of human rights because that goes into issues of labour standards, exploitation, and accountability when harm is done, or was done.

"(And) I think the fact that Malaysia is aware that there are issues and wants to tackle these issues is good for them.

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