Cease arbitrary detention, deportation of human rights defenders

1
Adilur Rahman Khan

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and our partners strongly condemn the detention and subsequent deportation of Adilur Rahman Khan on 20 July 2017 and express our grave concerns on the growing trend in Malaysia where local activists are not allowed to leave the country while activists from other countries are not allowed to enter into Malaysia.

Adilur Rahman Khan, an advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and secretary of Odhikar arrived in Malaysia from Dhaka, Bangladesh at 4.50am on 20 July 2017 to attend the second general assembly meeting of the Anti-Death Penalty Asia Network (Adpan).

Upon arrival, he was refused entry and shown a piece of paper with two words meaning ‘suspect’ written in Malay. To this day, the reason for denying his entry and his detention has still not yet been explained by the Malaysian government.

During his detention by the Immigration Department, his phone and laptop was taken by the immigration officers and he was not allowed access to any lawyers.

A lawyer also had difficulties reaching him as the immigration officers repeatedly failed to provide an answer as to the reason for his detention and refused to identify the officer-in-charge of Adilur’s detention.

The lawyer’s attempt to visit him directly at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport was further blocked through bureaucratic procedures: the lawyer was informed that no access would be given to Adilur without the lawyer having obtained permission from the immigration officers, who were refusing to respond.

Subsequent pressure by the lawyer resulted in an answer by an immigration officer that the detention was due to an order by the police. The contact number of the investigating officer from Bukit Aman was handed to the lawyer. The contact number proved to be useless as the investigating officer refused all communications and actively rejected phone calls from activists and lawyers alike throughout the day.

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Communication with Adilur was only re-established following a visit by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) later in the evening.

The Malaysian government has obligations and has made commitments to respect and protect human rights defenders and their work. These are reflected in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, which was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1998 by consensus, including that of Malaysia. They are reflected as well as for instance the most recent UN General Assembly Resolution on Human Rights Defenders adopted in 2015, for which the Malaysian government specifically voted in favour.

Malaysia is also presenting itself as a candidate for election as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, a process which the UN General Assembly has prescribed should take into account the country’s record on human rights.

The treatment of human rights defender Adilur Rahman Khan is, in the light of these obligations and commitments, wholly unacceptable. The Malaysian government must immediately give a detailed explanation for the circumstances of this case, apologise and provide evidence it has taken measures to ensure that he and other human rights defenders are not subjected to such treatment again in future.

Suaram and its partners also call on the Malaysian government to:

reveal the reasons for interference with human rights defenders seeking to enter Malaysia, including for purposes of attending international meetings for the purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms;

ensure that no human rights defenders are prevented from entering or exiting Malaysia by reason of having been named or included in any list on the basis of their activities promoting or protecting human rights, whether named or listed by a foreign government or the Malaysian authorities;

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enact domestic legislation to incorporate the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders into the national laws of Malaysia, to ensure the future protection of human rights defenders and their work, having regard for instance to the Model Law developed by a wide range of global stakeholders and leading experts and jurists in 2016.

Human rights defenders barred from entering Malaysia:

Joshua Wong, Hong Kong
Deported 26 May 2015 – talk on democracy

Leung Kwok-Hung, Hong Kong
Deported 29 May 2015 – talk on democracy

Mugiyanto Sipin, Indonesia
Deported 7 January 2016 – to attend Bersih programme

Han Hui Hui, Singapore
Deported 18 June 2017 – to attend youth study tour

Adilur Rahman Khan
Deported on 20 July 2017 – to attend Adpan general meeting

Endorsed by:

Malaysian NGOs

1. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
2. Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit)
3. Community Development Centre (CDC)
4. Pusat Komas
5. Aliran
6. National Human Rights Society (Hakam)
7. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
8. Bersih 2.0
9. North South Initiative (NSI)
10. Engage

International NGOs

1. Article 19
2. Front Line Defenders
3. Indonesian Human Rights Monitor (Imparsial)
4. Indonesian Legal Roundtable (ILR)
5. Institute Democracy (ID-Indonesia)
6. International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)
7. Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel)
8. People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), India
9. Informal Sector Service Centre (Insec), Nepal
10. South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (Sichrem), India
11. Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (Masum), India
12. Programme Against Custodial Torture and Impunity (Pacti), India
13. Korean House for International Solidarity (Khis), South Korea
14. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), South Korea
15. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP), Timor-Leste
16. Inform Human Rights Documentation Centre, Sri Lanka
17. Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN), the Maldives
18. Bytes for All, Pakistan (B4A), Pakistan
19. Association for Law, Human Rights and Justice (Hak Association), Timor Leste
20. Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Indonesia
21.Think Centre, Singapore

Thanks for dropping by! The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

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Lau Chengkeat
16 Aug 2017 7.30pm

Takut!