Singaporean activist deported, barred from workshop

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The Malaysian government must immediately lift the travel ban imposed on Singaporean activist Han Hui Hui, the International Federation of for Human Rights (FIDH) and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) have urged.

FIDH and Suaram condemn the Malaysian authorities’ decision to deport Han back to Singapore and prevent her from participating in a human rights workshop in Kuala Lumpur.

“Malaysian authorities treated Ms Han as if she were a dangerous criminal. The travel ban imposed on Ms Han limits her rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly and must be lifted immediately,” said FIDH president Dimitris Christopoulos.

On 18 June 2017, Immigration Department officers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport prevented Han from clearing immigration and detained her for several hours. During the detention, plainclothes officers informed Han that she was blacklisted from entering Malaysia.

When a lawyer provided by Suaram asked the immigration officers to provide the legal basis on which they relied to ban Han from entering Malaysia, the officers said the ban was issued under Article 8(3)K of the 1959/63 Immigration Act.

The provision states that immigration authorities are authorised to bar any person who is deemed by the home affairs minister to be “an undesirable immigrant” from entering the country.

Han had been invited to attend a Regional Youth Exchange programme organised by Suaram on 19-23 June in Kuala Lumpur.

At 7.40pm, Han agreed to be deported back to Singapore. She boarded a flight back to the city-state at 9:45pm. During her five most recent visits to Malaysia, from April 2015 to the latest on 12 May 2017, Han did not encounter any problems entering the country.

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“It is a sad state of affairs when the Malaysian government declares an activist persona non grata and prevents her from attending a human rights workshop. Ms. Han must be removed from the blacklist immediately and allowed to engage in peaceful human rights activities that are beneficial to Malaysians,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy.

In Singapore, Han has actively campaigned to promote government transparency and accountability and respect of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. On 22 February 2017, Han was imprisoned for several hours in the Singapore State Courts lock-up on charges of causing a public nuisance under Article 290 of the Singaporean Criminal Code over a peaceful demonstration she had organised in September 2014.

The International Federation for Human Rights, known by its French acronym FIDH, is an international human rights NGO representing 184 organisations from close to 120 countries. Since 1922, FIDH has been defending all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights as set out in the Universal Declaration for Human Rights.

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