Two human rights groups file for judicial review over plan to deport 1,200 Myanmar nationals

PETALING JAYA: Two human rights organisations have filed for a judicial review in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to stop the government’s plan to deport 1,200 Myanmar nationals to the country’s military government.

Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv said the effort to stop the deportation is based on information that asylum seekers and refugees were among those being sent to Myanmar on Tuesday (Feb 23).

“There are also reports that those due to be deported include children in detention, with at least one parent still in Malaysia.

“Separating children from their parents is an extremely inhuman practice that places these minors at grave risk and goes against the best interest of the child, ” she said in a statement on Monday (Feb 22).

Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia jointly filed the judicial review application on Monday, and named Malaysia’s Immigration Department director-general, Home Minister and the Malaysian government as respondents.

The judicial review aims to obtain a court order to prevent the deportation, and includes the names of three UNHCR document holders and 17 minors who have at least one parent still in Malaysia.

Malaysia had agreed to deport the 1,200 individuals after the Myanmar military, which came to power in a coup on Feb 1, offered to send three navy ships to pick up its citizens at Malaysian immigration detention centres.

Later, on Feb 15, Reuters had quoted Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud as clarifying that the 1,200 Myanmar nationals to be deported will not include UNHCR cardholders or Rohingya migrants.

Maliamauv also criticised the Malaysian Government’s decision to cooperate with the Myanmar military to send detained migrants back to the country.

“The Myanmar military’s human rights violations against protestors and dissidents has been widely documented.

“If Malaysia insists on sending back the 1,200 individuals, it would be responsible for putting them at risk of further persecution, violence and even death.

“We hope the court will take the necessary step to halt this deportation and protect their lives. We call on the government to immediately grant UNHCR full access to the 1,200 people as a first step towards addressing the dire situation of thousands of people in immigration detention, ” she said.

She added that the organisations have yet to receive confirmation of when the court will hear the application for the judicial review.

Asylum Access Malaysia executive director Tham Hui Ying said that the three UNHCR document holders have a legitimate expectation that they would not be sent to Myanmar.

“Deporting them would be in violation of their rights and in clear breach of the non-refoulement principle that the Malaysian government is bound by, ” she said in the statement.

Non-refoulement refers to a principle in international human rights law which stipulates that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture, cruel or inhuman treatment or punishment.

Tham added that separating children from parents would also be in violation of Malaysia’s commitments under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

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