Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) is pleased to learn of the extension of the Australian High Court’s temporary injunction of the deportation of 16 asylum seekers under the controversial asylum swap deal between the Australian and Malaysian governments.
Although it comes as a temporary reprieve in preventing the deportation of the asylum-seekers which comprises accompanied and unaccompanied minors. A successful outcome ensuing from this legal challenge would be consistent with the spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention.
LFL reiterates its strong objection to this swap deal as the Malaysian government has yet to show any tangible commitment towards the protection of refugees and /or asylum seekers in this country. There is still no real commitment to recognise refugees under the law nor any commitment to allow them to work or give access to healthcare.
The Malaysian immigration act maintains whipping as a form of punishment for those who have entered this country “illegally”, this would mean a large number of asylum seekers potentially face prosecution and sentencing in accordance with present laws.
LFL also finds the Australian government’s reasoning that this swap deal would break the people smuggling business model is misconceived as the return of 800 refugees and their processing by UNHCR in advance of thousands of persons of concern who are unable to access registration, will only encourage others who are desperate and face hardship here in Malaysia, to make an attempt to escape and continue to seek the aid of smugglers.
LFL urges the Australian government to review the deal and at the same time demands that the Malaysian government recognise and ratify the 1951 Refugee Convention as a first step towards guaranteeing protection and giving humanitarian aid to these victims of violent conflict and persecution in their countries of origin.
8 August 2011
Lawyers for Liberty