AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL MALAYSIA & ASYLUM ACCESS MALAYSIA
PRESS STATEMENT 24 FEBRUARY 2021
Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia welcome the High Court of Kuala Lumpur’s extended stay order against the deportation of a remaining 114 people who figured on the original list of 1,200 people to be deported to Myanmar.
The organisations again condemn the deportation by the Malaysian authorities of 1,086 people on 23 February 2021, in defiance of an earlier court order.
“We believe yesterday’s deportation was not only in violation of the principle of non-refoulement which forms part of customary international law, but may also be in contravention of our obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW),” said Katrina Jorene Maliamauv, executive director of Amnesty International Malaysia.
“Our priority and concern is over the fate of both the 1,086 en route to Myanmar and the 114 individuals who remain in Malaysia. While partial information about the group showed that some were UNHCR document holders, asylum seekers, and minors who would be separated from one or both guardians, we are still in the dark over the full details – including those who weren’t deported.
“We believe the government owes an explanation to the people of Malaysia as to why they chose to defy the court order, and on the identity and status of all 1200 people.
“These dangerous deportations have not been properly scrutinised and put individuals at grave risk. Authorities must halt them before they endanger more lives. They must stop trying to railroad these deportations without accountability. Finally, they must immediately grant the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) access to the group.
“There is clear, documented evidence of an escalation in human rights violations in Myanmar since the coup earlier this month. Therefore, no deportation to Myanmar can be treated as part of any ‘normal exercise’, but demands more scrutiny,” said Katrina Jorene Maliamauv.
To prevent similar human rights violations from taking place, the UNHCR must be given immediate and urgent access to all detention facilities. UNHCR has been denied access to Malaysia’s immigration detention centres since August 2019, and was likewise denied access to the 1,200 people on the deportation list to evaluate the risks they face.
“Deportations that violate the principle of non-refoulement must never occur again. The government must immediately grant access to UNHCR into immigration detention centres to verify asylum claims among the detainees,” said Tham Hui Ying, executive director of Asylum Access Malaysia.
“It is unconscionable that the UN refugee agency has been prevented from carrying out its responsibilities since August 2019. This must be fixed without further delay.
“It appears that not only did the Immigration Department reject the authority of Malaysian courts; it has also done so in violation of international laws and in contravention of Malaysia’s commitments under the CRC and the CEDAW.
“The authorities must provide a satisfactory explanation as to why yesterday’s deportation was carried out despite an express order from the High Court not to do so.”
In defiance of a court order to stay the deportation, the Malaysian government sent 1,086 individuals to Myanmar on 23 February 2021. The deportation was done in cooperation with the military of Myanmar.
On 22 February, Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia jointly filed an action in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to prevent the deportation. An interim stay order to halt the deportation was granted by the Court in the afternoon of 23 February, pending a hearing on the leave application for judicial review. In the evening of 23 February, despite the court order, the government deported 1086 people to Myanmar.