Immigration depots: Stop the violations

Nora Murat
Sep 3, 10

Amnesty International Malaysia welcomes the admission of the Home Ministry that immigration depots in Malaysia have failed to meet international standards. We are hopeful that the admission will be the first step in rectifying the human rights abuses.

The Malaysian government must now take urgent action in resolving the problem so that it is not prolonged or worsened. Acknowledging that a problem exists is an important step but it is only the beginning.

This year, Amnesty International had released 2 reports on Malaysia entitled, ‘Malaysia: Abused and Abandoned: Refugees Denied Rights in Malaysia’ and ‘Trapped: The Exploitation of Migrant Workers In Malaysia,’ which documented cases of exploitation, abuses and legal difficulties faced by migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia. We had also highlighted the dire condition of the depots.

We hope the Home Ministry would use the reports and recommendations made in reviewing the conditions of the depots and pay particular focus to the UDHR on the migrants’ ‘right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care’ (Article 25), not to subject them to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment (Article 5) and not to subject them arbitrary arrest or detention (Article 9).

Currently, Malaysia is home to about 2.2 million documented and 2.2 million undocumented foreign workers. Malaysia is now one of the largest receiving countries for migrant workers in Southeast Asia.

There are approximately between 90,000 and 170,000 refugees and asylum-seekers living in Malaysia. They came to Malaysia seeking a better future, hoping that their human rights will be respected and upheld.

We further urge the Home Ministry to recognise that these are human rights issues and a product of gross human rights violations occurring in the home countries of the refugees and asylum seekers.

On May 13 this year, Malaysia was re-elected onto the United Nations Human Rights Council; a body that aims to promote and protect human rights and make recommendations to resolve human rights abuses.

Also, as a member of Asean, Malaysia must act to stop these violations and ensure that everything is done to protect the rights of everyone in our country.

We believe that regional problems must also be solved as they are one of the major root causes of migrations. Violations of human rights must be addressed in the countries from which refugees, asylum-seekers and migrant workers are leaving so that the problem is solved at the source.

The Myanmar election scheduled for Nov 7 is an opportunity for Malaysia as an Asean nation to take a stand and demand an election that will respect the freedom of association, assembly and expression which is being campaigned for by Amnesty International worldwide

The writer is executive director, Amnesty International Malaysia.

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