Suaram strongly condemns the secret forced deportation of two refugees and one asylum seekers from Sri Lanka yesterday by the government and putting all three of them at risk at the hand of Sri Lankan government. The two recognized refugees by the office of the United Nations High Commission on Refugee (UNHCR) in Kuala Lumpur are Mr. Kirubaharan and Mr. Kirubanathan while Mr. Gushanthan’s asylum application is in the process of being considered by the UNHCR.
The action of the Malaysian government is in violation of non-refoulement principle of the international customary law, which forbids the rendering of a true victim of persecution to their persecutor. The Malaysian government has the international obligation to observe international customary law even though Malaysia has not ratified the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
We are appalled that the family members of the three were not notified of the deportation neither was the UNHCR and Suaram, despite all three parties have been in constant communication with the police on the case. We fear that all three may face torture or danger to their life upon their return to Sri Lanka.
Why the rush in deporting them? Why the secrecy of the deportation without informing the families? Is the Malaysian government supporting the Sri Lankan government in tracking down their dissidents in exile?
The Inspector General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar in his press release published on 25 May 2014 claimed that they are terrorists. He was even quoted of saying that “The suspects had been using UNHCR cards here to avoid from authorities’ action.”
We question the basis and motives of such a label when these three Sri Lankan refugees have even yet to be charged in court and be proven as terrorists.
The statement is in stark contradiction with the information given by the investigating officer on the case, who informed Suaram that the three were being investigated for offences under the Immigration Act and being remanded for 14 days from the day they were arrested, 15 May 2014.
Why the sudden change of the charges, from offences of immigration law to now having link with terrorism? Is this made up to justify the deportation of the three?
Innocent until proven guilty does not seems to be the rule of law in Malaysia. These three Sri Lankans are seeking refuge in this country with the hope to get resettled to another country with the help from UNHCR. If whatever claims that the IGP made is true, why did he not charge the three of them in court and proved his case, instead of deporting them in such a rush and highly secrecy manner?
Suaram wishes to remind the IGP that he is not the judge and he should not take the law in his hands by deporting refugees and asylum seekers without going through the legal due process and the right to trial be accorded to them.
Three Sri Lankan refugees deported without due legal process, claims Suaram. “The government is violating the non-refoulement principle of the international customary law by sending the refugees back to their persecutor, Sri Lanka,”said Suaram’s spokesperson R Thevarajan
Suaram calls for an independent investigation on the IGP to determine if the IGP has abused his powers and taking the law in his hands.
We urge the Royal Malaysia Police to work with the UNHCR and stop deporting Sri Lankan refugees back to their country. We further call on the government to immediately ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its option protocol and to legislate domestic law to protect refugees and asylum seekers.