Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Abused and Abandoned: Refugees Denied Rights in Malaysia

English language version of Amnesty International's latest report on Malaysia, "Abused and Abandoned: Refugees Denied Rights in Malaysia (Index ASA 28/010/2010) which will be published on the 16th June ( embargoed until 14.01 GMT). Please also find attached the press release that accompanies the report. Once the report has been released, please feel free to circulate the report amongst your contacts. A Malay language version of the report will also be available shortly.

If you have any questions regarding the report, please contact Chris Nash (chris.nash@amnesty. org), head of the Refugee and Migrants Rights team, or the Refugee and Migrants' Rights team (rmrteam@amnesty. org)

Report Summary:

The report concludes that Malaysia's failure to officially recognize refugee status places it at odds with its international obligations and creates serious risks to the human rights of refugees and asylum-seekers. Refugees and asylum seekers face the daily prospect of being arrested, detained in squalid conditions, and ill-treated, including by whipping. They are also subjected to extortion and abuse by the police or other immigration enforcement agencies. They face the constant fear of being forced to return to a country where they may be stripped of their rights or even killed.

While there have been recent positive developments and reforms adopted by the government, including with regard to the strengthened cooperation with UNHCR, challenges still exist in identifying and registering refugees. There continue to be documented problems in relation to respect for the rights of UNHCR card holders as well as the ability of UNHCR to access and secure the release of refugees from detention.

Some key recommendations identified in the report include calling on the Malaysian government to:

Introduce a government ID card system for asylum seekers and refugees which provides them with documentation evidencing their legal right to remain in the country during the refugee status determination process and for as long as necessary thereafter, and which affords entitlement to relevant rights and services (including basic healthcare, primary education and housing). Ensure that identity cards are respected by all levels of immigration enforcers, and holders are not arrested, detained or deported.

 Ensure that UNHCR documents are respected by all levels of immigration enforcement, including by issuing a circular to law enforcement agencies throughout the country.

Provide asylum-seekers and refugees with the legal right to work in Malaysia, and documentation to ensure this right is understood and respected by employers and law enforcement agencies in line with international legal standards and practice.

End criminal penalties (including whipping and imprisonment) for refugees and asylum-seekers, including in relation to irregular entry.

Immediately remove all immigration related functions and powers from RELA, including the power to arrest and detain.

Ensure that asylum-seekers are detained only as a measure of last resort and in line with international standards, and that those detained are provided with prompt and unimpeded access to UNHCR. Ensure that unaccompanied children under the age of 18, the elderly, trauma victims and pregnant women are never detained for migration-related reasons.

Take steps to ratify the Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and bring domestic law, policy and practice in line with these instruments. Take steps to ratify the ICCPR, the UN Convention against Torture and the ICESCR, and integrate them into domestic law, policy and practice.

The report recognises that while it is incumbent upon the Malaysian authorities to address many of the identified problems, the international community must also take its share of responsibility. In particular, this should include concerted efforts to increase the number of resettlement places available in third countries.

For the full version of the report and press release please click on the accompanying attachments.

All the best

Refugee and Migrants Rights Team

Amnesty International
email: rmrteam@amnesty. org
tel: +44(0) 20 7413 5500
fax: +44(0) 20 7956 1157


Working to protect human rights worldwide


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