Thursday, June 02, 2011

800 Australian asylum seeker brought into Malaysia to be detained in Semenyih - Is this legal?

So, it seems that the 800 asylum seekers from Australia, sent possibly forcibly and without the expressed consent of the said 800, will be placed in Malaysia's Semenyih Detention Centre. There is already a problem of overcrowding, etc at these detention centers. Recently, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had much to state about these centres - see About Migrants in Malaysia - UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention -8/2/2011. Selected quotes from the report is as follows:- 

"...the Working Group was seriously concerned by the administrative detention regime applied to asylum-seekers, refugees and migrants in an irregular situation..."

" special legislation relating to refugees and asylum-seekers in Malaysia, since they are not recognized as such under domestic law; indeed, current legislative framework does not even recognize the terms “refugees” and “asylum-seekers”...."

"...The Government should not use immigration detention for asylum-seekers, refugees and vulnerable groups of migrants, ..."

"...that at least six asylum-seekers and migrants had died of leptospirosis, an infectious disease, in immigration detention camps. In 2009, 14 detainees died in immigration detention centres. ..."

"...Most prisons visited were found to meet international standards and regulations on conditions. This finding does not, however, apply to immigration detention centres...."

"...The regime applied to migrants in an irregular situation, refugees and asylum seekers is not seen to be in line with international human rights law..."    

Let us also not forget the fact is that 29,759 migrants 'caned' in Malaysia between 2005-2010 (9/3/2011) and this information was based on answers given in Parliament.

In a response to a parliamentary question on 9 March, Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein disclosed that Malaysia had caned 29,759 foreigners between 2005 and 2010 for immigration offences alone.

I wonder also the legality of detaining the said 800 from Australia. What Malaysian law did they violate - for certainly their coming into the country is with the blessing and consent of the Malaysian government - so, you cannot even justify detaining them in Malaysian Detention Centres for Undocumented Migrants. This 800 would not have broken any Malaysian law - you cannot just go to another country, pick up people and bring them to Malaysia and then  detain them for being 'illegal' migrants... at these Immigration Detention Centres.  I believe that there is no law that will make this exercise legal...

Malaysia Solution: Semenyih immigration depot a barbed wire home for asylum seekers

Barbed wire ... Malaysia's Semenyih immigration depot / Pic: Stephen Cooper The Daily Telegraph

THIS is the first look at where asylum seekers will be sent under Julia Gillard's proposed swap with Malaysia.

The Semenyih immigration depot, which holds up to 1500 detainees, is usually heavily fortified but The Daily Telegraph simply walked through the front gate.

A riot at the notorious depot presented the perfect opportunity for the Malaysian Home Affairs office to renovate the facility as the new home for 800 Australian asylum seekers.

In return, Australia would accept 4000 processed refugees from Malaysia.

Workers are putting final touches to the compound's buildings. The detention blocks, complete with bars, have been given a new coat of paint, new fencing and the rooms cleaned up in preparation for the new arrivals.

"It is almost finished," a worker said.
Lining the compound is 1m-high barbed wire and three giant watchtowers. Further south at Lenggeng detention depot, security has been increased.

A successful Amnesty International mission to expose the dirty conditions that women and children are living in has spooked the Ikatan Relawan Rakyat Malaysia (RELA) paramilitary corps.

The yellow beret-wearing volunteer army is made up of part-time "neighbourhood watch" storm troopers.

Refugee advocates said RELA had recently raided apartment blocks where Burmese immigrants had been hiding. If the Burmese are caught for the second time, they are sent to secretive courts within immigration depots where they are ordered to be caned with a rattan.

At Lenggeng, this reporter was frisked by RELA officers who temporarily confiscated my phone, passport and camera and I was ushered into Commander Salaze's office.

Out the front of the office in two 10m x 15m cages are two groups of Burmese refugees huddled together.

Outside, RELA officers twirl their batons under the hot sun.

"I can't let you in to have a look because we are on a heightened security alert," Commander Salaze said.
He denied the photos released by Amnesty International were taken at the camp but it is understood detainees who commit serious offences are transferred to local prisons where canings take place.

He also laughed off suggestions that 6000 detainees were caned in Malaysia every year: "The caning does not happen in any of the immigration camps, it happens in the prisons."

In April, 109 Burmese refugees scaled the rear wall of the compound and ran into the jungle. Across Malaysia, there are regular riots and mass escapes as the system struggles to cope with the influx of refugees from Burma, Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia.

"We caught most of them but some got away," Commander Salaze said.

Aerial surveillance and tracker dogs were used to hunt them down in the nearby palm oil plantations.

The Daily Telegraph could not get past the front gate of the KLIA compound, near the international airport.

There are more than 800 refugees living there.

Across Malaysia, there are more than 90,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers. - Herald Sun, 1/6/2011, Malaysia Solution: Semenyih immigration depot a barbed wire home for asylum seekers

For more on the Semenyih depot, where asylum seekers will be sent under Prime Minister Julia Gillard's "Malaysian Solution" go to The Daily Telegraph.


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