Malaysia: Investigate Return of 1,086 Myanmar Nationals

(Bangkok) – The Malaysian government should urgently examine the Immigration Division’s return of 1,086 Myanmar nationals to Myanmar in defiance of a court order, Human Rights Watch mentioned at this time. On February 23, 2021, the Malaysian High Court granted a temporary stay of deportation for 1,200 Myanmar nationals in custody to permit judicial overview. Regardless of the courtroom order, immigration authorities transferred 1,086 of them to the custody of the Myanmar navy for return to Myanmar. Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin ought to order the Immigration Division to grant the United Nations refugee workplace, UNHCR, instant entry to everybody in immigration detention to evaluate and decide whether or not they’re acknowledged refugees, qualify as refugees, or have grounds to hunt asylum. “Malaysia’s immigration authorities have proven a blatant disregard each for the essential rights of Myanmar nationals and an order by the Malaysian Excessive Courtroom,” mentioned Linda Lakhdhir, Asia authorized advisor. “The immigration director-general has put lives in danger by sending folks again to a rustic now dominated once more by a army that has a protracted monitor report of punishing folks for political dissent or their ethnicity.” In a letter dated February 11, 2021 “relating to the repatriation for 1,200 undocumented Myanmar nationals,” the Myanmar embassy in Kuala Lumpur requested Malaysia’s Ministry of International Affairs for “permission” for 3 navy ships to dock on the Lumut Naval Base in Perak State on February 21 and depart on February 23. Malaysia’s director-general of immigration, Khairul Dzaimee Daud, publicly confirmed the arrangement on February 11. On February 15, Daud asserted that the Myanmar nationals to be returned wouldn’t embrace UNHCR “cardholders” or Rohingya refugees. Human Rights Watch, Fortify Rights, and others known as for Malaysia to permit UNHCR, which has been denied entry to Malaysian immigration detention facilities since August 2019, to have entry to the detainees to find out whether or not any have been acknowledged refugees or had grounds to qualify as refugees. That entry was by no means granted. Regardless of lack of entry, Asylum Entry and Amnesty Worldwide, of their application for judicial review filed on February 22, mentioned they acquired info indicating that at the least three UNHCR cardholders have been amongst these scheduled for return. The teams additionally acquired info indicating that at the least 17 youngsters with a number of mum or dad in Malaysia have been amongst these scheduled for return. On February 23, the Excessive Courtroom granted overview and ordered a halt to the deportations till after a listening to to be held at 10 a.m. on February 24. Malaysia’s Immigration Division has supplied no info relating to the roughly 114 Myanmar nationals who weren’t transferred to the custody of the Myanmar navy, however again asserted that it didn’t ship again any Rohingya refugees or asylum seekers. “Given Malaysia’s prior claims that no refugee cardholders have been amongst these scheduled for return, the Immigration Division’s assurances carry little weight,” Lakhdhir mentioned. “With no full and clear investigation into these returns and an order allowing UNHCR entry to all detainees, refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia are susceptible to extended detention and return to persecution.” As of December 2020, greater than 178,000 refugees have been registered with UNHCR in Malaysia. Greater than 86 p.c are from Myanmar, including more than 100,000 Rohingya, 22,000 Chin, and 29,000 from different ethnic communities. The entire variety of refugees in Malaysia, together with these from Myanmar, is probably going a lot larger. A couple of million ethnic and non secular minorities from Myanmar have fled persecution, protracted human rights violations, and mass atrocity crimes by the Myanmar army prior to now decade. On February 1, the Myanmar army overthrew the democratically elected authorities. Because the coup, Myanmar safety forces have used excessive and unnecessary lethal force against peaceful protesters, performed a whole lot of arbitrary arrests, amended legal guidelines to strip away rights, and blocked web entry nationwide. The worldwide authorized precept of nonrefoulement prohibits nations from returning any individual on its territory or underneath its jurisdiction to a rustic the place they might face persecution, torture, or different severe hurt. Though Malaysia just isn’t a celebration to the 1951 UN Refugee Conference or its 1967 Protocol, nonrefoulement is acknowledged as a part of customary worldwide legislation and is binding on all states. Given the Myanmar army’s repression of critics of the coup or the junta, in addition to the army’s report of abuses in opposition to ethnic minorities, Malaysia’s failure to offer honest asylum procedures or enable UNHCR to make refugee determinations violates the federal government’s worldwide authorized obligations, Human Rights Watch mentioned. Director-Basic Daud didn’t specify whether or not the 17 youngsters recognized by Asylum Entry and Amnesty Worldwide, or every other youngsters with a mum or dad in Malaysia, have been amongst these returned to Myanmar. Separating youngsters from their mother and father would violate Malaysia’s obligations underneath the Convention on Rights of the Child, to which Malaysia is a celebration. Beneath that conference, youngsters shouldn’t be separated from their mother and father except doing so is in the most effective pursuits of the kid. The Malaysian authorities ought to completely examine the actions of the Immigration Division on this case, take acceptable disciplinary or authorized motion in opposition to anybody performing in violation of the courtroom order, and put in place guidelines and rules to make sure that any future returns are in full compliance with worldwide legislation, Human Rights Watch mentioned. The federal government ought to grant UNHCR instant entry to all immigration detention services to train its mandate to find out the refugee standing of all detainees and facilitate sturdy options, together with integration in Malaysia, for these acknowledged as refugees. The federal government must also ratify the Refugee Conference and set up asylum procedures according to worldwide requirements for stateless folks and international nationals susceptible to persecution of their dwelling nations.

“Malaysia’s Immigration Department should recognize that it cannot operate above the law,” Lakhdhir said. “With Myanmar’s brutal military back in power, the risks of returning Myanmar nationals fearing return are higher than ever.”

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