ID cards for refugees: A step in the right direction

SUARAM welcomes the announcement by the Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam on the Government’s plans to issue identification cards to refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We view this as a positive development towards the recognition of the right to seek asylum as enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

SUARAM welcomes the announcement by the Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam on the Government’s plans to issue identification cards to refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). We view this as a positive development towards the recognition of the right to seek asylum as enshrined in Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

However, SUARAM notes with disappointment that Mahmood Adam stated that the refugees “cannot work here, but they can do odd jobs” . Government must also allow refugees access to full-time work and earn a living while they remain in the country. The more than 75,000 refugees and asylum seekers currently registered with UNHCR is an existing source of labour. Instead of importing more migrant workers, the Government should first exhaust existing sources of labour in the country.

With regards to the planned crackdown on undocumented migrants scheduled to be carried out on 15 February, the Government must take precautions to prevent arrests of refugees and asylum seekers carrying UNHCR documents. In addition, the Government must make concerted efforts to identify the root causes for the large population of undocumented migrants in Malaysia which include labour trafficking and poorly formed policies that causes migrant workers to become undocumented. Crackdowns are in reality a flash in the pan, big efforts that fail solve a problem. What is needed in Malaysia is reform of immigration policies.

Malaysia has long been criticised for its poor treatment towards refugees and asylum seekers. On a daily basis, refugees and asylum seekers are arrested, sentenced for immigration offences, whipped and detained indefinitely. SUARAM hopes that with this current effort to issue identification cards for refugees, the Government is changing its treatment towards refugees and asylum seekers and that more changes towards respecting the rights of refugees will be made.

Lastly, SUARAM calls upon the Government to ratify the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.

Released by,

Temme Lee
Coordinator

New Detention Under ISA Yet Again

GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA

PRESS STATEMENT: 28th January 2010

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) is astonished to learn of the latest arrest under the infamous Internal
Security Act (ISA) in the midst of Government’s talks about reviewing the Act. GMI
condemns the new arrest under the ISA. The invokation of the ISA against these

GERAKAN MANSUHKAN ISA

PRESS STATEMENT: 28th January 2010

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) is astonished to learn of the latest arrest under the infamous Internal
Security Act (ISA) in the midst of Government’s talks about reviewing the Act. GMI
condemns the new arrest under the ISA. The invokation of the ISA against these
individuals is totally against the fundamental principal of human rights,
justice and the international human rights standards. 

News yesterday reported Home Affairs Minister as saying that ten were arrested under the ISA
for terrorism and international terrorist networking. He confirmed that the ten
arrested were linked to international terrorist organisation.

However according to the information received by GMI, we learn that there were around 50
people who were arrested under the ISA on Thursday, 21st January
2010 at Sungai Cincin, Gombak when they were attending an informal religious
class at Sungai Cincin. The house they were at was forced into without warning
by the police action forces using force and weapons. It seems that having
religious classes can be construed as threatening national security and high
security forces must be deployed. 

Among the 50 arrested that night, only 12 have been detained further and the rest were released
at around 3 am on 22nd January 2010. From the 12, GMI manages to
acquire nine names and is still trying to attain the other three. The nine are:

1. Azzahari bin Murad (Malaysian)
2. Aiman Al Dakkak (Syrian Nationality), USM PHD Student
3. Mohamed Hozifa (Syrian Nationality)- Son of Aiman Al Dakkak
4. Kutiba Al-Issa (Syrian Nationality)- Student
5. Khalid Salem (Yamani Nationality)- Student
6. Luqman Abdul Salam (Nigerian Nationality)- Student
7. Hassan Barudi (Syrian Nationality)
8. Hussam Khalid (Jordanian Nationality)
9. Abdul Alhi Bolajoko Uthman (Nigerian Nationality)

GMI strongly condemns the new arrest under the ISA. The Government must guarantee safety of the detainees
and notify the families. Legal assistance should be allowed. The government also
must clarify the status of the other three who are believed to have been arrested
together with all those names mentioned above. The ISA allows and provides for
arbitrary arrest and detention without trial for an indefinite period. Under
the ISA, detainees can be held for up to 60 days in secret locations and in
solitary confinement, often in a windowless cell where they lose all sense of
time and are at risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Detainees have been
assaulted, forced to strip, deprived of sleep, food and water, told that their
families would be harmed, and subjected to prolonged aggressive interrogation
to force confessions or obtain information.

GMI believes that the new detention may have been initiated in response to international
pressure on terrorist threats in Malaysia. It may be related to US travel advisory alert for the last two weeks
for potential criminal and terrorist groups planning or intending acts of
violence against foreigners in eastern Sabah or it may be connected with other
incidences in US and UK.
But nothing can be confirmed. Using ISA to confirm this by means of possibly
forcing confessions or creating unproven plots and links is unjust and
unscrupulous. In any case, ISA is a convenient tool to use to avert pressure by
making foreigners, in this case mostly from Middle East region, as scapegoats.

GMI values security of the country and does not condone any terrorist activities, but
one’s entitlement to a fair trial should not be deprived on any basis. If the
government has evidence against the suspects, we urge the government to charge
them in an open court, in accordance with their right to defend themselves, the
right to legal counsel and the right to a fair trial. Otherwise, they should be
released without any delay and unconditionally. Arrests made do not justify the
importance of ISA. Arrests made without any shred of evidence and trials
justify the abolishment of the draconian ISA.Accusing someone of
committing crime without producing credible evidence is slanderous; detaining
someone without trial, and not giving him a chance to defend himself is
barbaric!

It is ashamed that the government is again practising double standards on issues related to
ISA. On one hand, plans to review the ISA and to release detainees were
announced last year but on the other hand, new detention were carried out discretely
as no prior announcements were made. The
secrecy and unscrupulous practice that surround the use of ISA goes against the
principles of justice, truth and transparency. It again exhibited the true
colour of the ISA, which is extremely arbitrary and has nothing to do with
national security. It has further confirmed that the ISA is only a political
tool used to silence dissidents and criticisms against the government. We
demand the government to release them immediately or charge them in open court. 

GMI urges the people of Malaysia to demand for the release of all ISA detainees and abolish the ISA once and for
all. Lets us fight for our rights and for a better Malaysia without the ISA which
allows detention without trial. 

Abolish the ISA!!!
Release all ISA detainees!!!
Close KEMTA!!!

Syed Ibrahim
Syed Noh
Chairman GMI
013-3682067

Released by,

Nalini.E
Secretariat GMI 
0193758912

Abolish Emergency Ordinance and other detention without trial laws!

Suaram expresses disappointment and concern over the re-arrest of the three men under the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Crime Prevention) at Muar yesterday. The trio, M. Nandakumar (43), M. Thirugnanam (33) and K. Jayaraman (56), were charged with the murder of businessman Datuk M. Gunasegaran. They were released by the High Court yesterday after the prosecution dropped the charges. However, the police re-arrested three of them under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) once they stepped out of the court room.

Suaram expresses disappointment and concern over the re-arrest of the three men under the Emergency Ordinance (Public Order and Crime Prevention) at Muar yesterday. The trio, M. Nandakumar (43), M. Thirugnanam (33) and K. Jayaraman (56), were charged with the murder of businessman Datuk M. Gunasegaran. They were released by the High Court yesterday after the prosecution dropped the charges. However, the police re-arrested three of them under the Emergency Ordinance (EO) once they stepped out of the court room.

SUARAM condemns the re-arrest and the use of EO, the draconian legislation which provides for detention without trial, on the three individuals. The re-arrest of the detainees after being discharged by the court is an outright abuse of the system by the police and the government. The use of EO leaves those arrested with almost no recourse against wrongful arrest and detention. Worst still, the detainee will most likely face traumatic experiences in the first 60 days of a fresh detention under the EO and torturous process, a common occurrence amongst EO detainees previously encountered by Suaram. In the past years, Suaram has documented many allegations of flawed police investigations, torture, inhumane and degrading treatment and confession under duress by the EO detainees.

SUARAM recognizes the responsibility of the Malaysian government to curb crime and to deal with criminals, gangs and syndicates. But the government should not resort to means that violates human rights such as the EO in efforts to address criminal activity. Unfortunately in Malaysia, EO has been frequently abused by the police and government to deal with suspects of petty crimes. This is an outright misuse of power by the police and the Home Ministry in dealing with the EO detainees, particularly when they have absolute power and their decision cannot be challenged in court. Detention of any individual without trial is a violation of fundamental human rights.

SUARAM urges the government to release M. Nandakumar, M. Thirugnanam and K. Jayaraman immediately and to charge them in court instead.

SUARAM also calls on the government to abolish the Emergency Ordinance and other detention without trial laws. Those held under these laws should be charged in court or released. In societies governed by the rule of law, those who are guilty or innocent of committing crime must be decided by a court of law guaranteeing international fair trial standards.

Released By,

 

Nalini.E

Detention without Trial Coordinator,

SUARAM