IF Malaysia is serious about helping the Rohingya who have been refugees and asylum seekers in our country for many years, the Government must consider signing the convention on refugees along with its protocol relating to refugees.
Thousands of Rohingya have fled their home country over the past few years to seek refuge in neighbouring countries including Malaysia. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were some 149,100 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia as of June 30 this year. Of these, some 132,100 are from Myanmar, comprising 61,000 Rohingya, 38,200 Chin, 9,900 Myanmar Muslims, 4,200 Rakhine and Arakanese, and other ethnic groups. The Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, also known as the 1951 Refugee Convention, is a United Nations multilateral treaty that defines a refugee and sets out the right of individuals who are granted asylum and the responsibilities of nations that grant asylum. The Convention also sets out which people do not qualify as refugees, such as war criminals.
The Convention builds on Article 14 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which recognises the right of persons to seek asylum from persecution in other countries. A refugee may also enjoy rights and benefits in a state in addition to those provided for in the Convention.
The Malaysian Government has till now not signed the Convention along with its protocol. So far, 145 countries have become parties to this Convention. If the consequences of becoming a signatory member to the Convention are bad, why were these countries willing to sign this Convention in the first place? As such, the Malaysian Government should reconsider its position on this issue.
DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW
Faculty of Syariah & Law
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia