Saturday, May 07, 2011

Malaysian Detention Centres are already overcrowded - so why accept to house asylum seekers already in Australia?

Malaysian detention centers currently housing alleged undocumented migrants, which would include asylum seekers and others, are already overcrowded - and detainees and civil society have been protesting for better and more humanitarian detention conditions. 

When complaints of detainees fall on 'deaf' ears of the detaining authority and Malaysian government, there have been 'protests' - some of which have even resulted in fires and breakouts. Most recent have been the protests in the Lengeng Detention Centre. [See earlier posts:-Lenggeng Immigration Depot breakout - Investigate the root causes]
When asylum seekers reach Australia and claim for asylum, Australia should be housing these asylum seekers in Australia while the Australian government processes their applications....It is odd that they do not want to house them in Australia and was seeking other countries to house them...

Malaysia also have hundreds of thousands of asylum seekers and refugees that come to Malaysia  seeking asylum and refugee status - but whilst their application are being processed by the relevant bodies, they are all in Malaysia. Malaysia does not try to 'group them and dump them' in some other country....

There are already about 5 million undocumented migrants in Malaysia, which also includes tens of thousands of asylum seekers and refugees - so, I am shocked to learn that Malaysia has agreed to accept about 800 more asylum seekers from Australia. (This number would increase as more and more asylum seekers go to Australia). 

Why does Malaysia do this? The report says that in response Australia will accept 4,000 refugees per year. As a member of the UN, Australia already has an obligation to accept asylum seekers and refugees - and we already have tens of thousands of persons already accorded refugee status still waiting to be re-located in a 3rd country, like Australia who has the space and the capability to accept refugees. We have even more persons (maybe over 100,000 more) still waiting for asylum seeker/refugee status.

Even after persons get refugee(or asylum seeker status), and those still in the process of application are not provided housing and board in Malaysia, and they are just left to fend for themselves. Not having the right to legally work, and given the fact that Malaysian law does not recognize refugees and asylum seekers, they are all treated as 'undocumented' migrants who will be subject to arrest, detention and even deportation. 

Malaysia already has its own problems - and it makes no sense that Malaysia has now agreed to accept these persons who went to Australia seeking asylum and refugee status.

Further, would it also not be discriminatory and prejudicial when these persons in Australia seeking asylum are Malaysians - surely the return of Malaysian asylum seekers to Australia would be an act of 'non-refoulement' ...and an act contrary to universal principles and law.

Australia must revoke this agreement and keep their asylum seekers, now already in Australia, in Australia - not send them to some other country.

May 07, 2011

Malaysia, Australia Agree On Cooperative Transfer Of Asylum Seekers

KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 (Bernama) -- In a move to combat people smuggling and irregular migration in the Asia-Pacific region, Malaysia and Australia today announced a new bilateral arrangement which entails among others, an agreement for a cooperative transfer of asylum seekers.

In a statement issued by both governments, they said that under the new arrangement, asylum seekers arriving by sea in Australia would be transferred to Malaysia.

In exchange, Australia would expand its humanitarian programme and take on a greater burden-sharing responsibility for resettling refugees currently residing in Malaysia, the statement said.

prime ministers agreed that the core elements of the arrangement would include the transfer of 800 irregular maritime arrivals, who arrived in Australia after the date of effect of the arrangement, to Malaysia, for refugee status determination.

"In return, over four years, Australia will resettle 4,000 refugees already currently residing in Malaysia," the statement added.

The statement added that the transferees would not receive any
preferential treatment over asylum seekers already in Malaysia.

"Transferees will be provided with the opportunity to have their asylum claims considered and those in need of international protection will not be refouled," it said.

Both governments also pledged to treat transferees "with dignity and respect and in accordance with
human rights standards."

Australia would fully fund the arrangement, it added.

Both leaders said the bilateral agreement signed by both of them was part of the Regional Cooperation Framework agreed to at the Bali Process Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia on March 30 this year.

They said that both countries were working closely with the
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to operationalise the arrangement.

and Gillard said the complex nature of irregular migration, which they said was closely linked to the crimes of human trafficking and people smuggling, cannot be solved by acting alone but "must be tackled by countries forming cooperative arrangements under the auspices of regional and international frameworks."

They said the implementation of this one-off pilot project would be important "to undermine the business model of transnational criminal syndicates" particularly in people smuggling and human trafficking in this region.

The Malaysian and
Australian governments had asked senior officials to finalise a memorandum of understanding in the near future to set out detailed arrangements, the statement added.


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