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Monday, February 22, 2021

Govt negotiations with UNHCR still unresolved, says disappointed MPs

 


Two PKR parliamentarians have voiced disappointment that Malaysia plans to deport 1,200 Myanmar nationals amid a military coup in their home country.

Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip said despite the Immigration Department’s reassurances that asylum seekers and Rohingya refugees would not be among the deported, the department has not verified the status of the detainees with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

This is because the UNHCR has been denied access to the department’s immigration depots since August 2019.

“Earlier this year, Malaysia’s Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) had recommended that the Home Ministry restart its negotiations with the UNHCR to resolve the registration of refugees held in immigration depots.

“The decision to repatriate detainees, before fulfilling the recommendations of the PAC is most disappointing and puts great risk on human lives,” they said in a joint statement posted on Facebook today.

They said the deportation would also undermine efforts by other government agencies to provide healthcare to the Rohingya community in collaboration with the Qatar government, as well as pledges to immunise all adults in the country, including undocumented migrants.

“We ask that the Home Ministry and consequently the Immigration Department reconsider its decision, pending a thorough engagement with UNHCR and likeminded organisations.

“A humanitarian and principled approach, as has been done in the past, would prove to be in line with our principled position of protecting everyone in facing this pandemic,” they said.

For the record, Malaysia is not a signatory of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and does not legally recognise the status of asylum seekers, including those who have been documented by the UNHCR and are pending resettlement to another country.

Earlier, it was reported that 1,200 Myanmar nationals would be deported and were scheduled to be picked up by three Myanmar navy vessels tomorrow.

Immigration director-general Khairul Dzaimee Daud had said UNHCR cardholders and ethnic Rohingyas would not be part of the deportation.

However, Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia have filed a lawsuit today seeking a court order to stop the deportation.

They said the suit contains details of three UNHCR-registered asylum seekers who are among those to be deported, as well as 17 minors who have at least one parent still in Malaysia. - Mkini

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