7 October 2014
Malaysia is duty bound not to forcibly deport the Uighurs back to China
Lawyers for Liberty views with extreme concern the detention of 155 undocumented Uighur migrants including 76 children and urges the Malaysian government not to act hastily in forcibly deporting them to China until more information can be ascertained as to why they left China including whether they are refugees who are entitled to international protection.
Even though Malaysia is not a signatory to the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, Malaysia is still bound by international law not to forcibly deport the arrested Uighurs back to China as typically, those who were returned face severe persecution, including arrest, disappearance and torture.
Further, as a signatory to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, there are added international obligations to ensure the safety and well-being of the women and children detained, and by forcibly deporting them, Malaysia would certainly be in breach of both conventions.
In order to assess whether the Uighurs are refugees fleeing persecution, our immigration authorities must grant them immediate access to UNHCR so that they may seek asylum and have refugee status determined.
We are also surprised by DAP MP Lim Lip Eng’s exaggerated reaction where he treated the Uighurs’ undocumented status in the country as a security and terrorism breach when there was absolutely no evidence for him to come to that conclusion other than the fact that they were undocumented.
While Malaysia as a sovereign state has every right to safeguard its borders against unlawful entries, our immigration laws and policies are seriously lacking in terms of international standards as they failed to distinguish between refugees fleeing persecution and other types of undocumented migrants. It is unfortunate MP Lim Lip Eng too failed to grasp the distinction.
Lawyers for Liberty
7 October 2014
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