KUALA LUMPUR: Several NGOs submitted a joint memorandum to the Australian High Commission here today protesting the asylum seekers swap between Malaysia and Australia.

At a press conference later, Tenaganita chairman Irene Fernandez said civil societies were in the dark about the details of the agreement.

“So we asked for the details but the deputy high commissioner (Arthur Spyrow) was unable to provide it. He said both governments are still working on it,” she added.

Irrespective of the terms and conditions, Fernandez said civil societies were against the plan as it would expose the asylum seekers to human rights violation due to Malaysia’s poor track record in upholding human rights.

Lawyers for Liberty adviser Eric Paulsen said he could not understand why Australia would sign such a deal with Malaysia.

“Malaysia must change its law and policies on asylum seekers first before pursuing this agreement,” he said.

The Australian government announced this month that it planned to transfer 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia for processing.

In return, the nation downunder would accept and resettle 4,000 registered refugees living in Malaysia in the next four years.

The new initiative by both nations drew flak from NGOs and also the UN High Commissioner for Human Right Navi Pillay as Malaysia was not a signatory to the UN convention of refugees.

The NGO’s feared that Malaysia had a poor track record in managing asylum seekers which could expose them to abuse.

G Vinod | May 25, 2011, Free Malaysia Today