Stop the arrests of refugees and release the 45 Sri Lankan refugees now

Urgent Appeal: 24 March 2010

Urgent Appeal: 24 March 2010

SUARAM has been informed that 45 Sri Lankan refugees were arrested last night at Ipoh. They have since been taken to Langkap Immigration Detention Centre. We have identified 21 individuals in the group, all of whom are refugees recognised by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The names of the refugees will not be published for security and confidentiality purposes. We condemn the ongoing arrest of refugees with UNHCR documents.

SUARAM demands that the group of Sri Lankan refugees are given access to UNHCR immediately and consequently upon verification, released into UNHCR’s official care. All asylum seekers who have been detained by authorities must be given access to UNHCR who will verify their asylum claims. This must be extended to not only this group of Sri Lankan refugees but all asylum seekers and refugees arrested by law enforcement authorities.

SUARAM is concerned with the ongoing crackdown on undocumented migrants conducted by Immigration authorities. We have received a few reports of arrest of refugees with UNHCR documents in the past week. We call upon the Malaysian Government to ensure that that all law enforcement agencies (in particular RELA, Police and Immigration) respect UNHCR documents and refrain from arresting holders of these documents.

We also call upon the Malaysian Government to ensure that the law enforcement agencies respect and protect the rights of migrants and refugees during the course of the crackdown, including refraining from arresting migrants whose passports are held by their employers.

We remind the Malaysian Government of its obligation to uphold the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.

Released by,

Temme Lee
Coordinator

Urgent action needed:

Please write protest letters to the government and the police to express your strongest condemnation of the mistreatment of refugees. Please also demand the Malaysian Government to stop the repatriation of Sri Lankan refugees.

Please call and send your protest letters to:

Depot Imigresen Langkap
Jalan Chui Chak
36700 Langkap
Perak
Tel: +605-6592528
Fax: +605-6592527
Komandan Tel.: +605-6593898

Dato’ Abdul Rahman bin Othman
Director-General of Immigration Department,
Director-General’s Office,
Immigration Department of Malaysia Headquarters,
Level 7 (Podium),
No 15, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
62550 Putrajaya,
Malaysia
Tel: +603-88801005
Fax: +603-88801201
E-Mail: [email protected]

Y.B. Dato’ Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein
Home Minister
Ministry of Home Affairs
Blok D1 & D2, Kompleks D
Pusat Pentadbiran
Kerajaan Persekutuan
62546 Putrajaya
Tel : +603-8886 8000
Fax : +603-88884913
Email: [email protected] / [email protected]

Dato’ Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak
Prime Minister of Malaysia,
Prime Minister’s Office,
Main Block, Perdana Putra Building ,
Federal Government Administrative Centre,
62502 Putrajaya , MALAYSIA
Tel : +603-8888 8000
Fax : +603-8888 3444
E-Mail: [email protected]

SAMPLE LETTER

[Letterhead of your organisation]

Dato’ Abdul Rahman bin Othman
Director-General of Immigration Department,
Director-General’s Office,
Immigration Department of Malaysia Headquarters,
Level 7 (Podium),
No 15, Persiaran Perdana, Presint 2,
62550 Putrajaya,
Malaysia
Tel: +603-88801005
Fax: +603-88801201
E-Mail: [email protected]

Dear Sir,

RE: Stop the Arrests of Refugees and Release the 45 Sri Lankan Refugees Now

We are writing to you to express our outrage and our strongest condemnation over your government’s treatment of Sri Lankan refugees in Malaysia.

We demand that the 45 Sri Lankan refugees detained at Langkap Immigration Detention Centre are released immediately into the custody of UNHCR. We demand that UNHCR is given immediate and free access to register those who have yet to access UNHCR. This applies to all refugees and asylum seekers that are arrested my Malaysian law enforcement authorities.

We demand that the Malaysian Government take measures to protect the rights of refugees and asylum seekers who are currently in Malaysia and fully respect the principle of non-refoulement, as recommended by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), two UN Conventions of which Malaysia is party to.

We remind the Malaysian Government of its obligation to uphold the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms.

We strongly urge you, once again, to stop bringing shame to Malaysia and to ratify 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1967 Protocol. The Malaysian Government must take serious measures in promoting and protecting human rights if it intends to run for elections into the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Yours sincerely,

[Name]

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