Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bar Council moots monitoring mechanism for Malaysian-Myanmar refugee swap

October 18, 2011
President of the Malaysian Bar, Lim Chee Wee, said today it is crucial both governments prove the swap arrangement will stand up to “international scrutiny”. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — A proper monitoring mechanism is needed for the planned Malaysian-Myanmar refugee swap to ensure transparency and zero human rights violations, the Bar Council said today.
Lim Chee Wee, who is president of the Malaysian Bar, said it is crucial both governments prove the swap arrangement will stand up to “international scrutiny,” and pointed out that both Malaysia and Myanmar have had less than satisfactory track records in the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein announced yesterday that Malaysia will repatriate detainees of minor immigration crimes from Myanmar back to their country, and vice versa.

“No mention has been made of any monitoring mechanism and whether any determination has been made by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) as to whether any of the detainees to be returned is a genuine asylum seeker.

“It remains a fact that Malaysia and Myanmar are both laggards in respect of openness and transparency of governmental action and of ratification of international human rights conventions,” he said in a statement today.
“This immigration detainee swap must also be located within the context of the need for a wider and more comprehensive regional mechanism that will allow for freedom of movement of nationals from one Asean member country to work in other member countries in order to address the differing labour demands in this region,” Lim added.

Lim said existing laws in Malaysia regarding the handling of refugees did not suffice, and that they needed to be on par with international legal conventions if the government wanted to see the new swap deal through.

Putrajaya previously entered into a refugee swap deal with Canberra, dubbed the “Malaysia Solution”, where Australia would send 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia for processing in return for accepting 4,000 refugees from Malaysia.

After repeated attempts, the deal was finally abandoned last week after Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s administration recognised that it lacked the necessary lawmaker support to push the legislation through.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

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