Suhakam gesa hentikan tangkapan warga asing tidak berdokumen semasa krisis Covid-19 (Malay/English)

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Photograph by Tumisu/Pixabay

[ENGLISH VERSION BELOW] Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia (Suhakam) ingin menzahirkan kekecewaannya terhadap serbuan dan tangkapan beberapa ratus warga asing tidak berdokumen dari beberapa kawasan di Kuala Lumpur, baru-baru ini.

Dilaporkan bahawa serbuan yang dijalankan adalah sebahagian daripada usaha besar-besaran bagi mengawal dan membendung Covid-19 daripada merebak ke kawasan lain.

Di permulaan gelombang kedua pandemik ini pada bulan Mac, menteri pertahanan telah memberi jaminan bahawa tiada tangkapan berdasarkan status imigresen akan dibuat kepada mereka yang tampil untuk menjalani saringan atau mendapatkan rawatan Covid-19.

Ini disusuli dengan pengumuman Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia bahawa rawatan Covid-19 adalah percuma kepada sesiapa sahaja, termasuk warga asing yang menunjukkan gejala.

Ia boleh dikatakan sebagai langkah yang tepat dan dipuji oleh banyak pihak, menunjukkan bahawa fokus kerajaan adalah untuk menangani kepentingan kesihatan awam dan bukan untuk memerangkap mereka yang mempunyai status yang mencurigakan di negara ini.

Walaupun kerajaan telah memberi jaminan sebaliknya, masih ramai di kalangan komuniti rentan, termasuk warga asing, pelarian dan orang tak bernegara enggan tampil membuat pemeriksaan, disebabkan ketakutan berterusan kemungkinan menghadapi tindakbalas negatif.

Berita mengenai tangkapan secara besar-besaran yang berlaku dalam tempoh ini jelas merupakan langkah yang mundur dan tidak produktif dalam usaha negara untuk menangani isu wabak dari aspek kesihatan awam.

Tangkapan secara besar-besaran ini memperkuatkan lagi tanggapan negatif di kalangan komuniti ini, serta meningkatkan lagi ketakutan mereka terhadap tangkapan dan penahanan.

Akibatnya, besar kemungkinan kelak, ahli-ahli lain golongan rentan ini sukar untuk tampil menjalani ujian ataupun mendapatkan rawatan kesihatan, biar apapun sebab ataupun desakan untuk mereka melakukannya.

Suhakam menggesa pihak berkuasa untuk segera menghentikan tangkapan dan kembali kepada janji untuk mengesan dan merawat orang yang dijangkiti tanpa mengambil kira status mereka. Diharapkan tindakan ini dapat mengembalikan kepercayaan terhadap niat pihak berkuasa.

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Penyelesaian jangka panjang untuk menangani isu pendatang asing tidak berdokumen perlu merangkumi mekanisme penguatkuasaan dan pemantauan yang konsisten dan efektif dalam pengambilan pekerja asing, iaitu melalui pembekal perkhidmatan yang boleh dipercayai.

Dasar yang berasaskan hak perlu dirangka bagi mengatur dan mengelakkan situasi yang boleh mengakibatkan sesiapa sahaja menjadi ‘pendatang tidak berdokumen’, yang kemudiannya hidup dalam ketakutan yang berterusan menghadapi ketidakadilan dalam pekerjaan, atau penguatkuasaan dasar dan retorik imigresen.

Perkara 5(1) Perlembagaan Persekutuan mengamanahkan kerajaan untuk memastikan tiada seorang pun boleh diambil nyawanya atau dilucutkan kebebasan dirinya, termasuk keperluan untuk meneruskan kehidupan seperti makanan, pekerjaan dan kesihatan.

Suhakam menyeru agar semua pihak yang terlibat untuk lebih terbuka bekerjasama dengan kaedah baru, dengan sentiasa mengingati bahawa tujuan utamanya adalah untuk mengatasi musuh yang tidak boleh dilihat dan yang tidak membezakan seseorang dengan yang lain.

English version

Suhakam urges authorities to cease arrests of undocumented migrants during Covid-19 crisis

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is appalled by the news of a crackdown and arrests of several hundred undocumented migrants from some locations in Kuala Lumpur, recently. Reportedly, the move was part of a wide-scale effort to contain and stem the spread of Covid-19 to other areas.

At the start of the second wave of the pandemic in March, the defence minister gave an assurance that no one coming forward to be tested or seeking medical treatment for Covid-19 would be arrested based on their immigration status.

This was further reinforced by the Ministry of Health’s announcement that treatment would be free for anyone, including foreigners, showing symptoms. It was, for all intents and purposes, the right move and has been praised by many quarters as demonstrating the government’s focus to address this urgent public health issue rather than incriminating those with questionable status in the country.

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Despite the government’s assurances to the contrary, persistent fears remain among vulnerable communities, including migrants, refugees and the stateless, of the possible negative repercussions, resulting in the reluctance of many to come forward for testing.

The news of actual large-scale arrests taking place recently is counterproductive and clearly a step backwards in the ongoing public health response to the pandemic.

These large-scale arrests reinforce the negative perception within the communities, thereby reaffirming their original fear of arrest and detention. As a consequence, one can expect these vulnerable people will be less willing to come forward for any tests or medical treatment, regardless of the argument or persuasion for them to do so.

Suhakam urges the authorities to immediately cease the arrests, with a view to salvaging any remaining trust there is for the authorities and return to the initial promise of locating and treating infected persons regardless of their status.

Longer-term solutions to manage undocumented migrant issues could include consistent and effective enforcement-and-monitoring mechanisms over the recruitment of migrants, through trustworthy service providers.

Rights-based pathways should be set up to regularise and avoid situations which could lead to anyone becoming ‘undocumented migrants’, who will then live under constant fear of facing injustices in their jobs or of immigration enforcement and anti-immigration policies and rhetoric.

Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution mandates the government to ensure that no person shall be deprived of his or her life or personal liberty, including that which is necessary for sustenance of life such as food, work and health.

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Suhakam calls upon all involved to embrace new ways of working together, always keeping in mind that the ultimate goal here is to overcome the invisible adversary, which does not differentiate between person and the next.

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