Handing over of Letter to Prime Minister Calling For Malaysia To Ratify The International Covenant On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights.

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Memorandum to Suhakam on the Australia-Malaysia refugee “outsourcing” deal


Introduction

On 7 May 2011, the Australian and Malaysian governments announced a bilateral agreement which sought to transfer up to 800 asylum seekers who have arrived in Australia by sea to Malaysia while their asylum claims are being processed by the UNHCR. The announcement declared among others that the “transferees will not receive any preferential treatment over asylum seekers already in Malaysia.” In return, Australia will resettle 4,000 refugees currently residing in Malaysia over a period of four years.

While Australia’s agreement to accept more refugees for resettlement is commendable, we are however extremely shocked and concerned with Australia’s plan to illegally and forcefully deport asylum seekers and “outsource” its international obligation to protect refugees as defined under international law including the 1951 Refugee Convention which Australia is a party to.

We strongly condemn the Australian and Malaysian governments persistence in continuing this “outsourcing” deal despite criticisms from various quarters including from OHCHR, UNHCR, various international human rights organisations, and Australian and Malaysian civil society organisations.

Malaysia’s horrendous refugee track record

Let there be no doubt: Malaysia has a horrendous track record – infamous for its ill and brutal treatment of refugees and other undocumented migrants and has been consistently ranked as one of the world’s worst place for refugees to live.

Malaysia is not a state party to the Refugee Convention and in the absence of a comprehensive national legal and administrative framework for the protection of refugees, this transfer deal will certainly violate the rights of the refugees including the right not to be forcefully deported; the right to life, liberty and security of the person; and the right to freedom from torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.

In Malaysia, refugees and asylum seekers are still treated as undocumented migrants and subjected to harsh immigration laws and policies. Without documents, they are unable to work legally and live in perpetual fear of raids, arrest and harassment. Consequently, they live in the margins of society, constantly in hiding and living in poverty.

When arrested they are detained at detention centres for several months (sometimes even years) before being charged, jailed, whipped (men only) and deported, mainly to the Thai border – and some find themselves sold to human traffickers.

In May and September 2009, eight Burmese detainees died in two detention centres due to Leptospirosis, an infectious disease caused by water or food contaminated with animal urine. Detention conditions are deplorable and inhumane – overcrowding, sweltering, lack bedding, poor hygiene and sanitation, insufficient and poor quality food, irregular access to clean water and medical treatment, all of which fall far short of minimum international standards. Serious abuse by detention centre staff is also common, including arbitrary beatings.

The then-Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar reported to Parliament that between 1999 and 2008, there were 2,571 detainee deaths in prisons, rehabilitation centres and immigration detention centres. In December 2008, former Suhakam Commissioner Datuk Siva Subramaniam said 1,300 foreigners died in detention during the past six years due to lack of medical treatment and neglect.

Suhakam’s role

We view with concern Suhakam’s (real or perceived) lack of involvement in advising the Malaysian government over such an important agreement with serious repercussions. Suhakam must step up and play a larger role in ensuring that the deal does not violate international human rights laws and standards and that the rights and welfare of refugees are prioritised.

As has been widely reported, the Malaysian government is seeking to delete all references to human rights in the agreement and key words like “asylum seekers” and “refugees” may not even feature in the agreement. Instead these asylum seekers will be referred to as “illegal immigrants” and “the treatment of the transferee while in Malaysia will be in accordance with the Malaysian laws, rules, regulations and national policies.” However there are reports that these asylum seekers may now be “exempted” from being treated as “illegal immigrants” and as such may not be subjected to arrest, detention and caning etc.

But how does this reconcile with the declared aim that the “transferees will not receive any preferential treatment over asylum seekers already in Malaysia”? What about the rights of the 90,000 asylum seekers and refugees already in Malaysia? Why should they not be “exempted” like the 800 asylum seekers if the reports are true?

All such contradictory reports, lack of information and transparency, and participation from civil society and Suhakam do not bode well for the future of any refugees in the country. Suhakam should not seemingly accept at face value what government officials say, for example as reported recently: “Malaysia has given a firm commitment that the 800 asylum seekers would not be caned, would not be put in detention centres and would be treated with dignity and respect. If the arrangement with Australia results in better treatment of all refugees, that is something we would welcome. And if this arrangement paves the way for Malaysia to sign the 1951 Convention, that would be good. The whole aim of the arrangement is to expedite processing and resettlement,” says Commissioner Datuk Dr Khaw Lake Tee. (Hopes and fears of a novel refugee deal, NST, 6 June 2011).

Such words are meaningless and valueless. While we understand that Suhakam aims to work constructively with the Malaysian government, it however must not be complicit and to seemingly accept such words without incorporating any concrete commitments or changes into the agreement or into the immigration laws, regulations, policies and administrative framework. It is essential for Suhakam to demand that any changes or reforms made should be done in a comprehensive, transparent and coherent manner rather than the present ad hoc, secretive and incoherent approach.

Recommendations to Suhakam

* Urge the Malaysian government to immediately withdraw from the agreement until comprehensive discussions are held with UNHCR, Suhakam and civil society organisations;

* Urge the Malaysian government to establish domestic legislation and policies to protect and promote the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are already in the country and to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol;

* Urge the Australian government to respect its international obligations to refugees including under the Refugee Convention, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT);

* Urge the Australian and Malaysian governments to ensure that future bilateral or regional cooperation concerning human trafficking and smuggling includes respect for the human rights of the trafficked and smuggled persons, asylum seekers and refugees;

* Urge the Australian government to actively defend and promote human rights obligations instead of condoning human rights violations.

Submitted by:

1. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
2. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
3. Tenaganita
4. Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI)

MEMORANDUM to the Australian High Commission in Malaysia on the Australia-Malaysia Agreement on the Transfer of Asylum Seekers

MEMORANDUM to the Australian High Commission in Malaysia on the Australia-Malaysia Agreement on the Transfer of Asylum Seekers

25 May 2011

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, wish to express our opposition to the proposed Australia-Malaysia bilateral agreement, in principle, to transfer the next 800 asylum seekers seeking asylum in Australia to Malaysia.

Although the terms of the joint agreement remain vague, we are of the view that the Australian Government is making a mistake in arranging this joint agreement with the Malaysian Government which is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (“Refugee Convention”). This proposed exchange is a misguided approach in dealing with a complex issue that will cause serious ramifications as Malaysia has a long record of abuse and mistreatment of people seeking protection. This arrangement, if implemented, may lead to the violation of the rights of transferred individuals to Malaysia.

Australia has ratified the Refugee Convention and is obliged to promote and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Under the convention, Australia may not transfer any refugee who is lawfully present in its territories. Australia may also not transfer refugees who are not lawfully present its country where the transfer may result in violation of the rights of those transferred refugees. Australia may only transfer refugees and asylum seekers to states where there are procedures for the recognition of their status and rights.

Malaysia has no domestic act to protect the rights and security of refugees and asylum seekers as well as no legal recognition of their status. This creates significant barriers in their livelihood options in accessing their right to work, education and health. Furthermore, asylum seekers and refugees live in constant fear of the authorities, in particular, the police, Immigration authorities and the People’s Volunteer Corps (Ikatan Relawan Rakyat, RELA). as they are treated as undocumented migrants and subjected to harsh immigration laws and policies. We question the Australian government’s silence towards Malaysia’s mistreatment of undocumented migrants and refugees while outsourcing its responsibility without seriously taking into consideration the rights, well being and safety of the refugees.

Even though the agreement will see the resettlement of 4,000 refugees from Malaysia to Australia, the agreement falls far from “burden sharing”, as mentioned by the Australian government. Instead, this move is more of a “burden transition” from Australia to Malaysia. The Australian Government should not show a bad example of treatment of asylum seekers and refugees to Malaysia and other states in the region that have not ratified the Refugee Convention.

We emphasise that the Australian Government must first urge the Malaysian Government to ratify the Refugee Convention before making any agreements with regards to refugees and asylum seekers.

We, the undersigned organizations, call upon the Australian government to;

• Immediately withdraw the asylum agreement.

• Urge the Malaysian Government to establish domestic legislation to promote and protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are already in Malaysia and to ratify the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

• Respect its international obligations in relation to asylum seekers that enter its country. These obligations include Australia’s commitments under the Refugee Convention and a few other international instruments, including International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT).

Increase its humanitarian programme, in particular, to resettle more refugees from Malaysia and the Southeast Asia region to Australia.

Endorsed by:
Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
TENAGANITA

MEMORANDUM to the Australian High Commission in Malaysia on the Australia-Malaysia Agreement on the Transfer of Asylum Seekers

MEMORANDUM to the Australian High Commission in Malaysia on the
Australia-Malaysia Agreement on the Transfer of Asylum Seekers

We, the undersigned civil society organizations, wish to express our opposition to the proposed Australia-Malaysia bilateral agreement, in principle, to transfer the next 800 asylum seekers seeking asylum in Australia to Malaysia.

Although the terms of the joint agreement remain vague, we are of the view that the Australian Government is making a mistake in arranging this joint agreement with the Malaysian Government which is not a signatory to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (“Refugee Convention”). This proposed exchange is a misguided approach in dealing with a complex issue that will cause serious ramifications as Malaysia has a long record of abuse and mistreatment of people seeking protection.

This arrangement, if implemented, may lead to the violation of the rights of transferred individuals to Malaysia.

Australia has ratified the Refugee Convention and is obliged to promote and protect the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. Under the convention, Australia may not transfer any refugee who is lawfully present in its territories. Australia may also not transfer refugees who are not lawfully present its country where the transfer may result in violation of the rights of those transferred refugees. Australia may only transfer refugees and asylum seekers to states where there are procedures for the recognition of their status and rights.

Malaysia has no domestic act to protect the rights and security of refugees and asylum seekers as well as no legal recognition of their status. This creates significant barriers in their livelihood options in accessing their right to work, education and health. Furthermore, asylum seekers and refugees live in constant fear of the authorities, in particular, the police, Immigration authorities and the People’s Volunteer Corps (Ikatan Relawan
Rakyat, RELA). as they are treated as undocumented migrants and subjected to
harsh immigration laws and policies. We question the Australian government’s silence towards Malaysia’s mistreatment of undocumented migrants and refugees while outsourcing its responsibility without seriously taking into consideration the rights, well being and safety of the refugees.

Even though the agreement will see the resettlement of 4,000 refugees from Malaysia to Australia, the agreement falls far from “burden sharing”, as mentioned by the Australian government. Instead, this move is more of a “burden transition” from Australia to Malaysia. The Australian Government should not show a bad example of treatment of asylum seekers and refugees to Malaysia and other states in the region that have not ratified the Refugee Convention.

We emphasise that the Australian Government must first urge the Malaysian
Government to ratify the Refugee Convention before making any agreements with
regards to refugees and asylum seekers.

We, the undersigned organizations, call upon the Australian government to;

Immediately withdraw the asylum agreement. Urge the Malaysian Government to establish domestic legislation to promote and protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are already in Malaysia and to ratify the 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol.

Respect its international obligations in relation to asylum seekers that enter its
country. These obligations include Australia’s commitments under the Refugee
Convention and a few other international instruments, including International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
(CAT).

Increase its humanitarian programme, in particular, to resettle more refugees from Malaysia and the Southeast Asia region to Australia.

Endorsed by:

Health Equity Initiatives (HEI)
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
Malaysian Social Research Institute (MSRI)
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
TENAGANITA

MEMORANDUM KEPADA SURUHANJAYA HAK ASASI MANUSIA MALAYSIA (SUHAKAM)Isnin, 23 Mei 2011


MEMORANDUM KEPADA SURUHANJAYA HAK ASASI MANUSIA MALAYSIA (SUHAKAM)Isnin, 23 Mei 2011

PENAHANAN ABDUL MAJID KUNJI MOHAMMAD DI BAWAH ISA SATU KEZALIMAN DAN ABDUL MAJID PERLU DIHANTAR SEMULA KE MALAYSIA!

Gerakan Mansuhkan ISA (GMI) ingin membawa perhatian Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia (SUHAKAM) kepada kes penahanan terbaru di bawah Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (ISA) iaitu penahanan Sdr Abdul Majid Kunji Mohamad pada 6 Mei 2011.

Beliau ditahan tanpa bicara di bawah ISA atas tuduhan menyalur bantuan kewangan dan sokongan logistik kepada kumpulan militan di Selatan Filipina dan kemudian dikaitkan dengan Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Baru-baru ini, seperti dilaporkan sebuah akhbar tempatan yang memetik satu sumber perisikan serantau yang tidak dinamakan, Sdr Abdul Majid dipercayai diminta untuk membekalkan peralatan kejuruteraan dwi-kegunaan untuk kilang senjata yang berkeupayaan membuat pelbagai jenis senjata termasuk pelancar roket.

Ini merupakan tuduhan yang amat berat tetapi tidak dibicarakan mahupun diberi ruang pembelaan. Penahanan tanpa bicara dan tuduhan berat tanpa bukti ke atas beliau melanggar prinsip asas hak asasi manusia, keadilan, agama dan piawaian antarabangsa berhubung hak asasi.
Terkini iaitu pada anggaran tarikh 19 Mei 2011, Sdr Abdul Majid telah dihantar pulang ke Singapura dan difahamkan ditahan di bawah ISA di sana. Sdr Abd Majid berasal dari Singapura.

GMI serta ahli keluarga Abdul Majid Kunji Mohammad mengecam penangkapan dan penahanan di bawah Seksyen 73 (1) ISA serta penghantaran pulang Abdul Majid ke negara asal iaitu Singapura.Pada Hari ini GMI bersama dengan ahli keluarga Abdul Majid ingin membawa perhatian SUHAKAM berkenaan beberapa pencabulan hak asasi yang berlaku dalam penahanan ini dan memohon perhatian segera dalam isu ini.

1.0       LATAR BELAKANG
Abdul Majid Kunji Mohammad merupakan seorang ahli perniagaan tekstil. Berumur 60 tahun dan berasal dari Singapura, namun beliau telah menetap di Malaysia lebih daripada 10 tahun. Beliau mempunyai 8 orang anak dengan bekas isteri pertamanya. Beliau merupakan seorang yang periang dan seorang yang kuat beragama. Beliau pernah menjadi pensyarah di salah sebuah Universiti di Singapura.

Kini, beliau mengalami masalah yang serius dalam perniagaan kerana sambutan yang kurang memuaskan. Dalam pada itu, beliau dituduh menyalurkan dana kepada kumpulan militan di Selatan Filipina. Tuduhan ini amat meragukan sekiranya Abdul Majid mengalami kesukaran kewangan dan hampir muflis

2.0       KRONOLOGI PENANGKAPAN
2.1 Abdul Majid telah ditangkap pada 6 Mei 2011, pukul 7.00 malam oleh sekumpulan anggota polis yang memperkenalkan diri sebagai polis dari Bukit Aman. Beliau telah ditahan di pejabatnya di Setiawangsa, Kuala Lumpur dan kemudian telah dibawa terus ke rumah beliau di Hulu Kelang, Kuala Lumpur. Pihak polis terus menyerbu masuk ke dalam rumah tanpa sebarang identifikasi dan sebab. Puan Suriati bt Osman, isteri Abdul Majid walaupun berkali-kali bertanya alasan mengapa Abdul Majid digari tangannya dan sebab penahanannya, namun jawapan daripada polis hanyalah mengatakan Abdul Majid ditahan  di bawah ISA. Menurut pihak polis, mereka tidak mempunyai sebarang bukti, cuma mereka bertindak atas laporan yang diterima.

2.2 Menurut  Puan Suriati, semasa berjumpa dengan suami beliau pada kali pertama selepas penahanan, Abdul Majid sentiasa muram dan berkelakuan agak ragu-ragu untuk menceritakan sebarang pertanyaan yang dikemukakan. Manakala, pada kali kedua perjumpaan juga Abdul Majid masih berkelakuan pendiam, muram dan tidak mahu memandang isteri dan berkelakuan aneh serta menasihati isteri agar tidak berbuat apa-apa untuk pembebasan beliau.
2.3 Kelakuan Abdul Majid tidak banyak berbeza dengan mana-mana tahanan ISA yang baru ditahan.         Kami percaya ini semua adalah angkara Special Branch (SB) yang kemungkinan besar telah mengugut Abdul Majid dan menasihatinya untuk tidak membuka mulut jika mahu bebas.
2.4 Pada 19 Mei 2011, Puan Suriati menerima panggilan daripada polis yang menyatakan bahawa, Abdul Majid telah dihantar semula ke Singapura dan juga kini dikatakan ditahan dibawah ISA Singapura. Namun, pihak keluarga dan GMI masih belum dapat memastikan kebenaran berkenaan penahanan Abdul Majid di bawah ISA di Singapura.

Sehingga hari ini peguam belum dibenarkan berjumpa dengan Abdul Majid. Beliau dihantar pulang tanpa mendapat sebarang perbicaraan.

3.0       PENCABULAN YANG BERLAKU
Isu utama dalam undang-undang pencegahan adalah penahanan tanpa bicara. Menahan seseorang di bawah akta-akta yang tidak memberikan peluang untuk perbicaraan dan proses bela diri di mahkamah adalah sesuatu yang menyalahi piagam hak asasi antarabangsa dan hak asasi seorang manusia yang fundamental seperti yang termaktub dalam Fasal 9, 10, 11 dan 13, Deklarasi Hak Asasi Manusia Sejagat 1948; Fasal 9 dan 12, Kovenan Antarabangsa Hak Sivil dan Politik 1966; Fasal 12, Piagam Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia dan Fasal 5, Perlembagaan Malaysia.
Prinsip tiada seorang pun bersalah sehingga dibuktikan di mahkamah adalah asas utama dalam persoalan penahanan tanpa bicara. Sekiranya ia tidak dihormati dan dengan adanya kuasa yang berlebihan di tangan kerajaan dan polis maka, undang-undang seperti ini sering digunakan untuk mempertahankan kedudukan pihak kerajaan dan polis yang seringkali gagal untuk membuktikan sebarang individu yang ditahan di bawah akta-akta ini.
Penahanan dan penghantaran semula Abdul Majid Kunji Mohammad adalah mala fide kerana polis sendiri mengakui bahawa mereka tidak mempunyai sebarang bukti terhadap Abdul Majid.

4.0       PENDIRIAN GMI
4.1 GMI mengecam keras penahanan dan penghantaran semula Abdul Majid ke Singapura. GMI dan keluarga amat bimbang akan keselamatan dan kesihatan Abdul Majid. Pihak keluarga iaitu isteri dan anak Abdul Majid masih berada di Malaysia. Suami dan ayah mereka dirampas akibat daripada ISA. Ketiadaan perbicaraan dan penghantaran semula (deportation) adalah satu tindakan yang menentang hak asasi manusia.

4.2 GMI menilai tinggi keselamatan negara dan tidak merelakan aktiviti pengganas, tetapi hak seseorang terhadap perbicaraan yang adil tidak boleh dinafikan dalam keadaan apa pun. Sekiranya kerajaan memiliki bukti terhadap suspek, kami menggesa kerajaan untuk mendakwa mereka dalam mahkamah terbuka, sesuai dengan hak mereka untuk membela diri, hak mereka untuk mendapatkan khidmat peguam dan hak  terhadap perbicaraan yang adil. Jika tidak, maka sesiapa pun termasuk Abdul Majid  perlu dibebaskan tanpa tangguh dan tanpa syarat.Penahanan yang dibuat tidak menjustifikasi kepentingan ISA. Penahanan yang dibuat tanpa bukti dan tanpa bicara sebenarnya menjustifikasi pemansuhan akta zalim ISA. Menuduh seseorang melakukan jenayah tanpa mengemukakan bukti yang kredibel adalah fitnah. Menahan seseorang tanpa bicara dan tanpa peluang membela diri adalah tidak bertamadun!

4.3 Malah, pihak polis yang sering  menukar tuduhan atau label yang digunakan ke atas Abdul Majid adalah cukup jelas menunjukkan bahawa pihak polis tidak mempunyai sebarang bukti tehadap beliau. Mereka sebenarnya gagal untuk membawa sebarang bukti terhadap Abdul Majid.

4.4 Cadangan untuk kajisemula ISA dibuat sejak 3 April 2009, lebih dari 2 tahun yang lalu. Tetapi sehingga kini, tiada sesiapa tahu bila sebenarnya kajian tersebut akan siap sedangkan ISA sudah menjadikan puluhan ribu sebagai mangsa samada pengganas atau bukan pengganas sejak 51 tahun lalu. Syor kajisemula ISA pernah disuarakan oleh beberapa orang Menteri dan parti komponen BN sebelum ini. Ada yang mencadangkan penubuhan Jawatankuasa Terpilih Parlimen. Malah ada yang meletakkan jawatan kerana membantah.

4.5 SUHAKAM mencadangkan sejak tahun 2003 supaya ISA dimansuhkan dan diganti dengan sebuah Akta baru, Akta Terrorisme tetapi tidak pernah diteliti oleh kerajaan atau dibentangkan di Parlimen. Pada masa yang sama, sudah ada peruntukan undang-undang sedia ada yang mencukupi untuk menangani keganasan. GMI ingin menegaskan bahawa asas-asas ISA bercanggah dengan hak asasi manusia dan prinsip-prinsip keadilan, kebebasan serta kedaulatan undang-undang. ISA bukan sahaja perlu dikajisemula tetapi perlu dimansuhkan!

Justeru , GMI ingin menggesa SUHAKAM untuk:

1. Mengenalpasti dengan Kerajaan dan pihak Polis status penahanan Abdul Majid di Singapura dengan segera

2. Campur tangan dan memohon agar pihak Polis dan kerajaan Singapura membebaskan Abdul Majid dengan segera atau bicarakan di mahkamah keadilan.

3. Mengadakan sesi dialog dengan pihak polis dan pihak GMI berkenaan perjumpaan keluarga dan pihak peguam semasa seseorang ditahan di bawah ISA kerana hak mendapatkan peguam dan perjumpaan dengan keluarga sering ditolak oleh pihak polis.

4. Menegaskan dan menuntut kepada Kerajaan untuk menghentikan sebarang penahanan terbaru, membebaskan tahanan dan memansuhkan ISA. Mansuhkan ISA!Bebaskan Semua Tahanan!Tutup Kem Tahanan Kamunting!

Yang benar,

SYED IBRAHIM SYED NOH

Pengerusi GMI