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Joint Statement: Malaysia: Cease Arbitrary Detention and Deportation of Human Rights Defenders

We the undersigned civil society strongly condemn the detention and subsequent deportation of Adilur Rahman Khan on 20 July 2017 and express our grave concerns on the growing trend in Malaysia where local activists are not allowed to leave the country while activists from other countries are not allowed to enter into Malaysia.

Adilur Rahman Khan, an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and Secretary of Odhikar arrived in Malaysia from Dhaka, Bangladesh at 4.50AM (+8GMT) on 20th July 2017 to attend the Second General Assembly Meeting of the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (ADPAN). Upon arrival, he was refused entry and shown a piece of paper with two words meaning ‘suspect’ written in Malay. Till this day, the reason for denying his entry and his detention is still not explained by the Government of Malaysia.

During his detention by the Immigration Department of Malaysia, his phone and laptop was taken by the immigration officers and he was not allowed access to any lawyers. A lawyer also had difficulties reaching him as the immigration officers repeatedly failed to provide an answer as to the reason of his detention and refused to identify the officer-in-charge of Adilur’s detention. The lawyer’s attempt to visit him directly at Kuala Lumpur International Airport was further blocked through bureaucratic procedures wherein the lawyer was informed that no access would be given to Adilur without the lawyer having obtained permission from the immigration officers, who were refusing to respond.

Subsequent pressure by the lawyer resulted in an answer by an immigration officer that the detention was due to an order by the Royal Malaysian Police. The contact number of the investigating officer from Bukit Aman was handed to the lawyer. The contact number proved to be useless as the investigating officer refused all communications and actively rejected phone calls from activists and lawyers alike throughout the day. Communication with Adilur was only re-established following a visit by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) later in the evening.

The Government of Malaysia has obligations and has made commitments to respect and protect human rights defenders and their work. These are reflected in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders,[1] which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 by consensus, including of Malaysia. They are reflected as well as for instance the most recent UN General Assembly Resolution on Human Rights Defenders adopted in 2015,[2] for which the Government of Malaysia specifically voted in favour. Malaysia is also presenting itself as a candidate for election as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, a process which the UN General Assembly has prescribed should take into account the country’s record on human rights.[3]

The treatment of human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan is, in the light of these obligations and commitments, wholly unacceptable. The Government of Malaysia must immediately give a detailed explanation for the circumstances of this case, apologize, and provide evidence it has taken measures to ensure that he and other human rights defenders are not subjected to such treatment again in future.

We also call for the Government of Malaysia to:

1) Reveal the reasons for interference with human rights defenders seeking to enter into Malaysia, including for purposes of attending international meetings for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms;[4]

2) Ensure that no human rights defenders are prevented from entering or exiting Malaysia by reason of having been named or included in any list on the basis of their activities promoting or protecting human rights, whether named or listed by a foreign government or the authorities of Malaysia;

3) Enact domestic legislation to incorporate the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders into the national laws of Malaysia, to ensure the future protection of human rights defenders and their work, having regard for instance to the Model Law developed by a wide range of global stakeholders and leading experts and jurists in 2016.[5]

For further information, please contact Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) at suaram@suaram.net or +603 7954 5724.

Human Rights Defenders barred from entering Malaysia:

  1. Joshua Wong, Hong Kong

Deported 26 May 2015 – talk on democracy

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32882510

  1. Leung Kwok-Hung, Hong Kong

Deported 29 May 2015 – talk on democracy

https://af.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idAFKBN0OE0PL20150529

  1. Mugiyanto Sipin, Indonesia

Deported 7 January 2016 – to attend Bersih programme https://www.malaysiakini.com/news/325816

  1. Han Hui Hui, Singapore

Deported 18 June 2017 – to attend Youth Study Tour

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/han-hui-hui-prevented-entering-malaysia-and-deported

  1. Adilur Rahman Khan

Deported on 20 July 2017 – to attend ADPAN General Meeting

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-detains-prominent-bangladeshi-rights-activist-adilur-rahman-khan

NOTES:

Odhikar statement on Adilur’s detention: http://odhikar.org/detention-of-adilur-rahman-khan-at-klia-malaysia/

Endorsed by:

Malaysian NGO

  1. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  2. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
  3. Community Development Centre (CDC)
  4. Pusat KOMAS
  5. Aliran
  6. National Human Rights Society (HAKAM)
  7. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
  8. BERSIH 2.0
  9. North South Initiative (NSI)
  10. ENGAGE

International NGO

  1. Article 19
  2. Front Line Defenders
  3. Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (IMPARSIAL)
  4. Indonesian Legal Roundtable (ILR)
  5. Institute Democracy (ID-Indonesia)
  6. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
  7. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL)
  8. People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India
  9. Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC), Nepal
  10. South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), India
  11. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), India
  12. Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (PACTI), India
  13. Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), South Korea
  14. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea
  15. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP), Timor-Leste
  16. INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
  17. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), the Maldives
  18. Bytes for All, Pakistan (B4A), Pakistan
  19. Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice (HAK Association), Timor Leste
  20. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), Indonesia
  21. Think Centre, Singapore

[1]                  General Assembly Resolution 53/144 (1998), “Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

[2]                  General Assembly Resolution 70/161 (2015), “Human rights defenders in the context of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.”

[3]                  General Assembly Resolution 60/251 (2006), “Human Rights Council” paragraph 8.

[4]                  See particularly article 5 of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

[5]    International Service for Human Rights, “Model Law for the Recognition and Protection of Human Rights Defenders”, https://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/documents/model_law_full_digital_updated_15june2016.pdf .

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