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Malaysia: UN human rights expert on drinking water and sanitation to visit


07 November 2018

Malaysia version

GENEVA (7 November 2018) – The UN expert on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation will visit Malaysia from 14 to 27 November to assess how the country’s legal, policy and institutional framework ensures access to drinking water and sanitation from a human rights perspective.

“I look forward to learning about how the Malaysian water and sanitation sector, after having started a reform in the  mid-2000's, is organised to provide equal access to water and sanitation for the entire population in Malaysia,” said Leo Heller.

“I would like to further learn about the crucial role of the recently established Ministry of Water, Land and Natural Resources and how the federal and local governments cooperate in ensuring access to those services in Peninsular Malaysia and the federal territories as well as in East Malaysia, namely, the States of Sabah and Sarawak.” 

The Special Rapporteur will assess whether the entire population in Malaysia has sufficient, hygienic and safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water and sanitation services, without discrimination.

The UN independent expert will travel to Gua Musang, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Miri, Putrajaya and Sandakan. He will meet federal, state and local government officials, representatives of NGOs, water and sanitation service providers and members of the international community.

“I will pay special attention to groups such as women and girls, indigenous populations, persons with disabilities, LGBT persons, detainees, people living in rural areas and other marginalized groups. In particular, I will examine the access to water and sanitation by the ‘forcibly displaced people’ in detention facilities, camps and other informal settlements,” Heller said. 

In a recent report, the Special Rapporteur focused on the human rights to water and sanitation of forcibly displaced persons, in particular, the internally displaced, refugees, asylum seekers, undocumented populations and migrants in vulnerable situations.

A news conference to share the expert’s preliminary findings will be held in Kuala Lumpur on 27 November, at 11am at the JW Marriott Hotel. Access is strictly limited to journalists. 

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report on his visit to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2019.


Mr. Léo Heller (Brazil) is the Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation, appointed in November 2014. He is a researcher in the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil and was previously Professor of the Department of Sanitary and Environmental Engineering at the Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil from 1990 to 2014. 

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Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures’ experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Malaysia 

For more information and media requests, please contact:

During the mission: Ms. Ahreum Lee +41 79 201 0119 / [email protected] 

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact:
Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / [email protected]

This year, 2018, is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: