Malaysian Bar: Unnecessary detention of refugees needs to be addressed

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 04 Jul 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar is planning to meet with the Home Minister on the perennial issue of refugees being detained by the authorities and put in detention centres despite their refugee status.

Its president Datuk Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said that he hoped to discuss the issue with Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“We are waiting for his reply for a date to meet. We will bring up the matter with the minister,” he told a press conference after a signing agreement on refugees and asylum seekers' legal aid scheme (Ralas) between the Malaysian Bar and  (UNHCR) Malaysia on Thursday (July 4).

Abdul Fareed said this in reply to a question on how the unnecessary detention of refugees can be curbed.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) deputy representative (Protection) Maja Lazic said that a refugee holding a refugee card that has the QR code could verify the refugee's status, and the authorities would let the refugee go, adding that the police have been given training to verify the status.

“However, if a refugee is holding a letter which states that his status is under consideration, or a different type of document, that is a bit more difficult.

“The authorities tend to contact us to verify with us if indeed the person is under our protection, but sometimes, that does not happen,” she said.

For this reason, UNHCR visits the 11 detention centres nationwide to get any verified refugees who are detained to be released, said Lazic.

She added that UNHCR has been investing a lot of time in advocating the rights of refugees with the authorities.

She said the solution for refugees was to apply immigration laws that provide for a temporary stay permit so that detention centres would not be filled up and law enforcement need not waste time detaining them.

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