Lawyers' insights on corporate legal accountability: Roger Chan Weng Keng
Roger Chan Weng Keng is the former chairperson of the Malaysia Bar Council Human Rights Committee and chairperson of the Malaysia Bar Council Constitutional Law Committee.
1.What are the main legal remedies or tools available to you in seeking to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses? What are the biggest gaps?
Incorporate human rights principles as per all the international human rights conventions into domestic laws if this has not been done, so as to enable the courts to perform their role.
Not to support the purchase of companies products if they are the results from abuse of human rights.
The issue is that the biggest groups are not signing the international instruments and not enforcing them.
2. What challenges (legal or practical) do you face in seeking to hold companies legally accountable in Malaysia? Do you think there has been any progress in this area in Malaysia?
Many of the international human rights instruments are not executed by the government for the time being. Commitment to ensure the enforcement and recognition of these rights are lacking. Very very slow progress in fact. Many laws are passed which are anti-human rights.
3. What are consequences or repercussions have you encountered as a result of your advocacy for human rights?
Resistance from authorities. For example, the police, the ministers and the various government departments. And of course laws which do not protect and promote human rights.
4. Do you ever collaborate with lawyers from other countries? If so, how?
Yes, through conferences and workshops and invitations to speak on particular subject matters that are human rights related.
Discussion with lawyers and activists in other countries on an informal basis.
5. What can the international community do to help?
To take cognizance and recognition of the human rights issues in my country and take a strong stand in respect of any violation of basic rights of the individual as enshrined in the International Human Rights Instruments and the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights.
6. What would be your main message to the business community regarding accountability for human rights abuses?
To ensure that their policies are human rights compliant and to have an internal accountability test every year so as to ensure a minimum to zero rights violation.