Friday, June 21, 2019

Malaysia needs law on refugees, asylum seekers(Malaysiakini)

Malaysia needs law on refugees, asylum seekers

Charles Hector, Madpet  |  Published:  |  Modified:
   
LETTER | On the occasion of World Refugee Day (June 20), Madpet (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) urges Malaysia to enact a law on refugees and asylum seekers, which will define their rights in Malaysia.

This becomes all the more important when Malaysia has entered into extradition agreements with many countries, where strict adherence to request for extradition may see Malaysia violating the principle of non-refoulement when they send back such refugees and/or asylum seekers to the very countries they fled from to escape persecution based on "race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion".

The arrest and return of Thai National Praphan Pipithnamporn, a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) recognised asylum seeker, in May was an embarrassment and also a violation of the principle of non-refoulement.

On the other hand, Malaysia's refusal to return to China the 11 ethnic Uighur Muslims in October 2018 was a commendable act and the country's position with regard the rohingyas seeking asylum in Malaysia is also good.

Now, Malaysia, who has an extradition agreement with India, may be forced to decide whether to return Islamic preacher Zakir Naik to India if a request was made in accordance to the agreement.

The question will be whether Zakir Naik is considered an asylum seeker or refugee by Malaysia.

The preacher was allegedly accorded PR status by Malaysia in 2015, but it is never made clear whether Malaysia considers him a refugee or an asylum seeker and as such, is bound to protect him from extradition.

Currently, Malaysia does not have any law on refugees and asylum seekers, and a declaration that Zakir Naik is a recognised asylum seeker or a refugee will be merely seen as a political position.

Such a postion can have more weight if he is also recognised by Malaysian law or UNHCR as an asylum seeker/ refugee.

This raises the importance for Malaysia to have a clear law on refugees and asylum seekers, which will enable the country to determine who can be considered as an asylum seeker or refugee, and entitled to country's full protection.

This will include the assurance that Malaysia will be in violation of the principle of non-refoulement.
Extradition agreements cannot, and should not, be used against asylum seekers and refugees recognised by Malaysian law.

Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which in actuality is of little consequence if the country has its own law that recognises and protects asylum seekers and refugees, and adheres to the principle of non-refoulement.
Asylum seekers and refugees need to be accorded legal recognition and status.

At present, with regard to foreign nationals, Malaysia only recognises legal immigrants, meaning foreigners that are in Malaysia with a valid visa or permit.

All other foreigners are considered ‘illegal’, or undocumented, and as such are subject to be arrested, charged, tried, imprisoned, whipped and/or deported.

Asylum seekers and refugees generally fall into the category of ‘illegal’ immigrants, and as such we need a clear law that grants recognition to them as a special class of foreign nationals. 

This recognition should start from the time they seek asylum until the point they are accorded asylum seeker or refugee status until they are re-settled in another country, or alternatively allowed to remain in Malaysia temporarily or permanently.
Such a law will also determine whether they have a right to work, operate a small business or earn a living while their applications are being processed and thereafter. As it stands, such asylum seekers and refugees do not have a right to work in Malaysia.

At present, Malaysia seems to have an unwritten policy that special treatment is accorded to those seeking, or obtained asylum/ refugee status, from UNHCR. 

There is no clear position whether they can work and earn a living in Malaysia. However, the recent arrest and handing over to Pipithnamporn shows the inadequacy this is to protect refugees and/or asylum seekers.

Malaysia’s new Pakatan Harapan government must enact a law on refugee and asylum seekers, which will also affect the extradition agreements and treaties the country is party to.

As such, Madpet calls on Malaysia to:
  • Enact a law that will govern the treatment and rights of refugees and asylum seekers, or those applying for such status;
  • Ratify/sign the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and other relevant conventions that will recognise and protect rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia.
  • Review its obligations under existing extradition treaties and agreements, to ensure that it does not violate Malaysia’s obligations under the principle of non-refoulement. 
Malaysia should never surrender anyone, including an accused or even a convicted person to another country if said person is recognised by Malaysia and/or UNHCR as a refugee and/or asylum seeker. - Malaysiakini, 21/6/2019


See FULL MEDIA STATEMENT at 

Malaysia Need Enact A Law On Refugees And Asylum Seekers, And Not Extradite Any Person In Violation Of The Principle Of Non-Refoulement

See also:-

 

 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

M'sia needs clear laws on rights of refugees, asylum seekers(Star, 21/6/2019)


M'sia needs clear laws on rights of refugees, asylum seekers
Nation
Friday, 21 Jun 2019 12:53 PM MYT

PETALING JAYA: As Malaysia only recognises documented immigrants, a clear law that grants rights to refugees and asylum seekers must be enacted, says Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet).

Madpet founder Charles Hector said as Malaysia only recognised legal and documented foreigners with a valid visa, refugees and asylum seekers who fall into the category of "illegal immigrants" need a clear law that grants recognition to them.

"This recognition should start from the time they seek asylum up to the point they are accorded asylum seeker or refugee status, and thereafter until they are re-settled in another country or alternatively allowed to remain in Malaysia temporarily or permanently.

"Such a law would also determine whether they do have a right to work, carry on small business or earn a living, whilst their applications are being processed and thereafter.

"As it stands, such asylum seekers and refugees at present do not have a right to work in Malaysia," he said.

He added that enacting a law that defined the rights of refugees and asylum seekers was important, as Malaysia had entered into extradition agreements with many countries.

Hector said those agreements where strict adherence to request for extradition might see Malaysia violating the principle of non-refoulement when they send back such refugees and asylum seekers to the very countries they fled from to escape persecution.

He lamented the deportation of Thai national Praphan Pipithnamporn who was accused by the Thai government of sedition for calling for a republic on social media.

Hector added that with a clear law, it would, for example, be made explicitly clear whether the government considered controversial preacher Zakir Naik a refugee or an asylum seeker.

He said if Malaysia considered Zakir a refugee or an asylum seeker, then it was bound to protect him and not send him back to India.

"The question will be whether Zakir, is considered an asylum seeker or refugee by Malaysia," he said.

Hector said Malaysia's declaration that Zakir was an asylum seeker would merely be a political position, unless he was also recognised by UNHCR or under Malaysian law.

He added that then there should be no extradition of persons recognised as asylum seekers or refugees.

Hector also called on the government to ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention and other relevant conventions that recognises and protects the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in the country.

He also urged the government to review obligations under existing extradition treaties or other agreements to ensure that they did not violate Malaysia’s obligations under the principle of non-refoulement. - Star, 21/6/2019
 

Malaysia Need Enact A Law On Refugees And Asylum Seekers, And Not Extradite Any Person In Violation Of The Principle Of Non-Refoulement


Media Statement –  20/6/2019

Malaysia Need Enact A Law On Refugees And Asylum Seekers, And Not Extradite Any Person In Violation Of The Principle Of Non-Refoulement

-          If Zakir Naik is a aslum seeker or refugee recognized by law, then extradition must be avoided?

On the occasion of World Refugee Day (June 20), MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture) urges Malaysia to enact a law on Refugees and Asylum Seekers, which will  also define rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia. 

This becomes all the more important when Malaysia has entered into Extradition Agreements with many countries, where strict adherence to request for extradition may see Malaysia violating the principle of non-refoulement when they send back such refugees and asylum seekers and/or refugees to the very countries they fled from to escape persecution based on "race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion".

The reason May 2019 arrest and return of a Thai National, one Praphan Pipithnamporn, then a  United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) recognized asylum seeker, was an embarrassment and was a violation of the principle of non-refoulement. 

The refusal to return to China the 11 ethnic Uighur Muslims in October 2018, on the other hand, was a commendable act.(Asahi Shimbun, 12/10/2018). Malaysian position with regard the Rohingyas seeking asylum in Malaysia is also good. 

Now, Malaysia, who has an extradition agreement with India, may be forced to decide whether to return Zakir Naik to India if India makes a request in reliance of that agreement. The question will be whether the said Zakir Naik, is considered an asylum seeker or refugee by Malaysia. 

Zakir Naik was accorded Permanent Residency (PR) status by Malaysia allegedly in 2015, but it has never been made clear whether Malaysia considers him a refugee or an asylum seeker, and as such is bound to protect him and not send him back to India. 

Having no law on refugees and asylum seekers currently, Malaysian declaration that Zakir Naik is a recognized asylum seeker or refugee will only be a mere political position, which may have more weight if Zakir Naik is also recognized by UNHCR as a refugee or asylum seeker OR Malaysian law considered him a refugee/asylum seeker.

This again raises the importance for Malaysia to have a clear law on refugees and asylum seekers, which will mean Malaysia will have the right to determine who Malaysia considers refugee or asylum seeker in law, and hence entitled to enjoy the full protection of Malaysia, including the assurance that Malaysia will not be in violation of the principle of non-refoulement.  Extradition Agreements cannot, and should not, be used against asylum seekers and refugees recognized by Malaysian law.

Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which really is of little consequence if Malaysia has its own law that recognizes and protects asylum seekers and/or refugees, and adheres to the principle of non-refoulement. 

Asylum Seekers and Refugees need to be accorded legal recognition and status. 

At present, with regard to foreign nationals, Malaysia only recognizes  legal immigrants(or documented), meaning foreigners that are in Malaysia with a valid visa or permit, and all other foreigners are considered ‘illegal’ or undocumented, and as such are subject to be arrested, charged, tried, imprisoned, whipped and/or deported. 

Asylum seekers and refugees would generally fall into the category of ‘illegal’ immigrants, and as such we need a clear law that grants recognition to refugees and asylum seekers, being a special class of foreign nationals. This recognition should starting from the time they seek asylum until the point they are accorded the said asylum seeker or refugee status, and thereafter until they are re-settled in another country or alternatively allowed to remain in Malaysia temporarily or permanently.

Such a law will also determine whether they do have a right to work, carry on small business or earn a living whilst their applications are being processed and thereafter. As it stands, such asylum seekers and refugees  at present do not have a right to work in Malaysia.

At present, Malaysia seem to have an unwritten policy that special treatment be accorded to those seeking or those who have obtained asylum or refugee status from the UNHCR. There is no clear position whether they can work and earn a living in Malaysia. However, the recent arrest and handing over to Thailand a UNHCR recognized asylum seeker shows how inadequate this is to protect refugees and/or asylum seekers.

Malaysia’s new Pakatan Harapan government must enact a law on Refugee and Asylum Seekers, which also will affect the obligations under these Extradition Agreements/Treaties that Malaysia is now a party to. There should be no extradition of persons recognized as asylum seekers or refugees.
MADPET urges Malaysia to enact a law that will govern the treatment and rights of refugees and/or asylum seekers, or those applying for such status;

MADPET also calls on Malaysia to ratify/sign the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and other relevant conventions that will recognize and protect rights of refugees and asylum seekers in Malaysia.

MADPET also urges Malaysia to review obligations under existing Extradition Treaties/Agreements, to ensure that it does not violate Malaysia’s obligations under the principle of non-refoulement. Malaysia should never surrender anyone, including an accused or even a convicted person to another country if the said person is then  recognized by Malaysia and/or UNHCR as a refugee and/or asylum seeker

Charles Hector
For and on behalf of MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)




Thursday, May 23, 2019

Another Malaysian may be hung by Singapore UNLESS....Pannir Selvam Pranthaman

Yet again, Singapore attempting to HANG another Malaysian - a 'drug mule'...and one wonders whether this new Pakatan Harapan government will fare better and save a man's life...
 
Pannir Selvam Pranthaman may be hanged to death on 24/5/2019(Friday). The Court of Appeal today will be hearing a final stay application...
 
Will Singapore's President Halimah heed the pleas...request of neighbor Malaysia, a fellow member of ASEAN, and commute the sentence to life imprisonment..?   

Why is Anwar Ibrahim or PKR leadership silent? Are they not bothered about the life of this Malaysian? What about DAP? Amanah? Bersatu? PAS?

Does the ethnicity/religion has any consideration when it comes to a political party's response? We all know that both PAS and even UMNO was very active when it came to saving the life of one Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, who was a young Malay woman sentenced to death in China for drug trafficking. Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim, 24, a university science graduate from a poor Malay family of rice farmers, admitted to having 2.9 kilograms in her luggage when she was arrested at Shantou airport...
ASIAONE / NEWS / THE STRAITS TIMES / STORY
               
Political parties vie to help drug trafficker
Fri, Dec 14, 2007
The Straits Times
               
KUALA LUMPUR - THE fate of a young Malay woman, who has been sentenced to death by a court in China for smuggling heroin, is causing concern among rival political parties in her home state of Kelantan in Malaysia, with the parties competing to come to her aid.

Umi Azlim Lazim, a 24-year-old Universiti Malaysia Sabah honours graduate, was sentenced to death in May, after she pleaded guilty to trafficking 2.9kg of heroin into Shantou in China's Guangdong province.

Her case hit the headlines in Malaysia last week. On Dec 8, The Star newspaper reported that her family, accompanied by a state government officer, was flying to Guangdong.

Umi's father, Mr Mohamad Lazim, 50, is a car mechanic and her mother Umi Slaia Ibrahim, 45, is a pisang goreng (banana fritters) seller.

Mr Mohamad Lazim told The Star on Saturday that the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), which rules in Kelantan state, was footing the bill for the trip.

PAS was also raising funds for Umi.

In a report yesterday, PAS deputy president Nasaruddin Mat Isa told Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper that the party was raising funds for the parents to visit Umi and to hire a Chinese lawyer to mount an appeal.

'We want the case reviewed,' he said.

The family has two years - from the time of the sentence in May - to appeal against the death penalty.

Umno, the main party of the ruling federal coalition, also wants to chip in.

The party's Pasir Puteh division head Kamaruddin Mohd Noor had announced the start of a fund to engage a 'top-notch' lawyer in either Malaysia or China.

'We are concerned for any Malaysian citizen facing the gallows abroad,' he said.

However, last week, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak said that the Malaysian government could not do much other than ensure that drug offenders abroad received a fair trial.

'We have laws in our country too. You know that if you traffic in drugs, you face the possibility of being sent to the gallows. It is difficult for us to do anything for them other than ensure that the legal process is a just one,' he said.

Under Malaysia's tough anti-drug laws, offenders can be hanged for trafficking 15g or more of heroin.

Umi was employed by a Kuala Lumpur-based firm to market foot massaging equipment and was on a sales and marketing trip in January when she was found with the drugs in Shantou airport. She was then arrested.

Law Minister Nazri Aziz had suggested that she might have been an unwitting accomplice in a drug smuggling operation.

'No young Malay woman, a graduate and employed, had been involved in trafficking. But recently, such incidents are surfacing because they are tricked by syndicates,' Datuk Seri Nazri was quoted as saying by the South China Morning Post.

'We are worried; we are studying the implications.'

His views were shared by Mr Bakri Zininas, director of Malaysia's Narcotics Department, who told The Star newspaper on Monday that Umi and others could have been used as drug mules by international syndicates.

'They were either tricked or they knew what they were doing,' he said, adding that 32 Malaysian women were in jails in China, Japan, Brazil and Chile for trafficking. 'Some have been sentenced, while others are awaiting trial.'

Hopefully, ethnicity and religion does not determine how we response to Human Rights violations  and Injustices - who the victims are or who the perpetrators are should never matter - our struggle is and must be for Human rights - and, here is for the LIFE of Pannir Selvam Pranthaman. Punish him but do not KILL him...

 
Saifuddin: Govt looking for ways to help Malaysian scheduled to hang in Singapore for drug trafficking

Nation
Tuesday, 21 May 2019 10:03 PM MYT




KLUANG (Bernama): The government is seeking ways to help a Malaysian who is scheduled to be hanged in Singapore on Friday (May 24) for drug trafficking, says Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah.

He said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Liew Vui Keong was making the efforts to try and save Pannir Selvam Pranthaman from the hangman's noose.

“Just now I discussed it with Liew and he is working on behalf of Putrajaya to try and convince the Singapore government to spare him the death penalty,” he told reporters at a Ramadan programme in Kampung Tengah here Tuesday (May 21).

He was asked to comment on an appeal by Pannir's family seeking the government's intervention because Pannir had allegedly not been given enough opportunity to apply for clemency under the republic's laws.


Saifuddin said in similar cases in the past, the government had also taken the same approach of trying to get a lighter sentence for those sentenced to death.

This is in line with Malaysia's move to place a moratorium on the mandatory death sentence.

Asked how Putrajaya could resolve the issue of allegedly short notice for carrying out the death sentence, he said there was nothing much the Malaysian government could do.

“This is the way Singapore administers its law. There is not much room for us to complain but normally what we do is we will try our best to help our people,” he said.

Tuesday, Pannir's family, through human rights group Lawyers for Liberty, turned to Putrajaya as their last hope to save him from the death penalty.

This followed their unsuccessful attempts to save Pannir, which included sending the final appeal to Singapore President Halimah Yacob.

Pannir, 32, was convicted of the offence by the Singapore High Court on June 27, 2017. - Bernama - Star, 21/5/2019

S'pore court to hear M'sian's application for stay of execution

Bernama  |  Published:
   
The Singapore Court of Appeal will hear tomorrow the application by Malaysian P Pannir Selvam to stay his execution scheduled for Friday, May 24.

“This application was filed by Pannir himself from prison,” Lawyers for Liberty adviser N Surendran said in a statement today.

Pannir had also submitted a final appeal for clemency to Singapore President Halimah Yacob.

He was convicted on June 27, 2017 by the Singapore High Court of trafficking 51.84g of diamorphine at Woodlands Checkpoint on Sept 3, 2014.

Drug mule's family make final appeal to Singapore president, urge Putrajaya to intervene

P. Pannir Selvam is due to be executed in Singapore on Friday. — AFP pic
P. Pannir Selvam is due to be executed in Singapore on Friday. — AFP pic
KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — The family of P. Pannir Selvam, a Malaysian convict who is facing the hangman’s noose in three days in Singapore, have made a last-ditch appeal to the island nation’s president Halimah Yacob and the Malaysian government to intervene.

In a press statement today Pannir’s sister, P. Sangkari said the notice of execution which they received last week came as a “shock” since it was dated on the same day that Halimah had refused Pannir any clemency.

Pannir, 32 was convicted on June 27, 2017 by the Singapore High Court of allegedly trafficking in 51.84g of diamorphine at the Woodlands Checkpoint on September 3, 2014 despite consistently pleading innocence.

“We know that in the New Malaysia, our government no longer approves of the death sentence for drug trafficking.

“The Malaysian government is Pannir and our family’s last hope. We implore the Malaysian government to communicate and urge the Singapore government to halt Friday’s execution. Please give Pannir and our family a second chance,” she said.

Lawyers for Liberty adviser N. Surendran had asserted previously that there were several irregularities in the Singapore legal process that will see the Malaysian hanged to death this Friday even though the latter has strong grounds to obtain clemency.

“Once again, Singapore is planning to execute a mere drug mule, while the drug kingpins continue to ply their trade with impunity.

“More disturbingly, Pannir’s final recourse of a clemency petition to the president of Singapore has been tainted with illegality and unlawful acts by the Singapore authorities,” Surendran said.

The former lawmaker highlighted that Pannir had aided the Singapore authorities by providing critical information about one Anand, believed to be the mastermind who had duped Pannir into carrying a package containing drugs to Singapore.

However, he claimed the Singapore public prosecutor unreasonably denied the certificate of assistance to Pannir that would have enabled the court to sentence the Malaysian to life imprisonment instead of death. - Malay Mail, 21/5/2019