We are deeply concerned on the plight of three Sri Lankan refugees whom are currently being detained in Bukit Aman police headquarters for investigations. The three individuals are as below:
All three were arrested on the 15th May 2014. Suaram suspects high level political intervention in this case in view of the Sri Lankan authorities have been targeting the Tamils who seek refuge in Malaysia to be deported back to Sri Lanka. We were informed by the Investigation Officer from Bukit Aman police headquarters that the investigation of the three Sri Lankans is being done under the Immigration Act. This explanation from the police is puzzling given that laptops, documents and many more personal items were confiscated by the police during the arrest of these three individuals. Why is this necessary if it is only an immigration offence?
Among these three individuals, Kirupanathan and Kirubaharan have valid certified card of the United Nations High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR), which means they are recognized as refugees waiting for a durable solution and resettlement by the UNHCR. Gushanthan has an appointment card indicating that his application for refugee status is being processed by the UNHCR.
According to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is a person who has fled the country of his or her origin, having a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership of a particular social group. The refoulement – deportation of refugees and political asylum seekers back to their country and put their life and wellbeing in danger – is a violation of international customary law. The Malaysian government has the obligation to observe international customary law even though it has not ratified the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
We fear that if these three refugees and political asylum seekers are deported back to Sri Lanka, they may face torture and persecution in the hands of the Sri Lankan government.
SUARAM calls on the Malaysian government to immediately halt any plan of deportation of these three Sri Lankan refugees and respect the agreement with the UNHCR in protecting refugees and asylum seekers. The government must allow access to these three individuals by the UNHCR to ensure that they received all necessary support and assistance from the UNHCR as part of the international obligations of the Malaysian government.