Myanmar refugees sold off at M’sian border, MP claims

  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 05 Nov 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: An opposition MP highlighted the plight of Myanmar refugees in Malaysia, claiming that some of them were "sold off" at Malaysia-Thai border by immigration officers to human traffickers during deportation.

Charles Santiago (DAP - Klang), said that based on those who have come forwardto relate their ordeal after paying off the traffickers, the refugees were sold off as slaves to fishing trawlers and the women as prostitutes in Thailand.

NTV 7 had also featured on May 3 in a programme called "Refugee for sale."

Together with Charles was Aegile Fernandez, co-ordinator of Anti-Trafficking in Persons in Tenaganita Sdn Bhd and Alice Nah from the Migration Working Group.

Aegile said the sum the traffickers asked was between RM2,500 and RM3,000and they allowed the refugees to make one or two calls to their family.

"For those who were unable to pay the sum, they would be sold off and manyjust disappeared like that.

"Among those who managed to come back, only few were willing to come forwardand relate their traumatic ordeal," said Aegile.

Tenaganita had also published a book entitled "The Revolving Door - modern day slavery refugees."

Charles said that, in a written reply by Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed HamidAlbar on July 9, the minister had said the Immigration department had set up aspecial committee to investigate the case of "refugee for sale" but did not find any officers involved in such trade.

However, Syed Hamid said the committee would continue to probe.

In another written reply on Oct 22, Syed Hamid said an internal probe wasconducted to gather information to decide if there was any need to set up an independent committee to investigate into the allegation but no proof wasfound later.

Syed Hamid also replied that the internal probe was carried out by the intelligence unit of the enforcement department of Immigration.

Charles said the committee set up by the department had either conducted poor investigation or covered up the matter.

"We have the Anti-Trafficking in Persons act but this is a complete violation of human rights," he said.

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