Rights Commission Urged Malaysian Authorities not to Arrest UNHCR Card Holders
31 March 2011 – KUALA LUMPUR: Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has urged authorities to release Burmese refugees which do not carry the UNHCR cards but of non-governmental organizations which are prepared to stand as guarantors.
Suhakam Commissioner Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah said, refugees should be freed under guarantors while their refugees’ status under the United Nations is being checked.
Sha’ani who represents the national human rights institution also asked Police and Immigration Officers not to arrest the UNHCR card holders.
“Although Malaysia had not ratified the UN Convention on Refugees, it however recognized the UN card,” he said.
He is commenting on the arrest of 23 Burmese nationals including Chin refugees last Wednesday, all of them including 16 UNHCR card holders were picked up and taken to the Bukit Jalil lock-up in Kuala Lumpur.
Muhammad Sha’ani claimed some investigation officers did not seem to know the procedure regarding the release of refugees carrying the UNHCR card.
“I contacted the police but there was no response until I sent a text message to the Kuala Lumpur Police Chief on Friday.”
“Then, one of the investigation officers called and said that he had released all refugees who carried UNHCR cards after their status had been confirmed,” he continued.
Kuala Lumpur Police Chief, Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah, when contacted by local media, said police detained the refugees because they were holding photocopies of UNHCR cards.
“We have to check with the UNHCR if the cards were authentic,” he said.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) was established by Parliament under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999, Act 597, which was gazetted on 9 September 1999. The inaugural meeting of SUHAKAM was held on 24 April 2000.
Reporting by Thomas Chong