Crackdown on migrants, refugees in Malaysia

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The mass arrests and detentions of migrants, refugees and stateless persons in Malaysia have begun.

Immigration detainees at the Lenggeng Detention Centre, Malaysia, 23 July 2009 - Photo courtesy of Amnesty France Flickr

Immigration officers, police, military and other enforcement agencies, including Rela have been mobilised to search for, arrest, detain and deport any undocumented migrant in Malaysia.

Key concerns:

  • Detention and deportation of refugees, stateless persons, victims of human trafficking and other vulnerable people, including children.
  • Possible use of violence by enforcement officers during raids, arrests and detention.
  • Violation of rights during arrests and detention i.e. no access to lawyers, phone call to family, deprivation of basic needs, etc

In order to monitor and respond to this crackdown, several hotline numbers have been set up:

Tenaganita (temporary hotline): 012 339 5350 and 012 335 0512
MSRI (hotline for refugees and asylum seekers): 012 6628483
Suaram: 03 77843525

Please send information about raids, rights violations during this crackdown or any other relevant information to raidwatch[at]gmail.com

Media contact:
Irene Fernandez (Tenaganita),
email: irene.f[at]tenaganita.net
phone: 012 316 3011

Background

The arrest, detention and deportation of undocumented migrants is the final phase of the Malaysian government’s Illegal Immigrant Comprehensive Settlement Programme (6P Programme, “6P”) In spite of Home Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Mahmood Adam’s declaration that the deadline for the 6P has been extended to 10 April 2012, we are already receiving reports of arrests and detention.

On 11 February, we were informed by refugees and members of the public that a raid was conducted in Kuala Lumpur, during which 100-200 migrants and refugees were detained. We are aware that some refugees were taken to detention centres, while the whereabouts of others are currently unknown.

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In previous immigration crackdowns (2005; 2008), there was high use of violence against the migrants and migrants were not granted access to a phone call, or to lawyers; we fear that similar (if not worse) rights violations will also take place during this crackdown.

We are also especially concerned for the lives of refugees and stateless persons (who remain ‘illegal’ under Malaysian law) and for victims of trafficking who will be arrested, detained and run the risk of deportation during this crackdown. That we are not aware of any processes in place to protect these populations or the refugees who are still in detention after being arrested on 11 February is a reminder of these real threats.

In order to protect the rights and lives of migrants and refugees, we call on all parties to be vigilant and assist us in monitoring and responding to this crackdown.

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