Hold immigration DG accountable for deportation, says rights group

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PETALING JAYA: Rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) has joined in the criticism of the Immigration Department over the deportation of Myanmar nationals, saying its director-general, Khairul Dzaimee Daud, should be held accountable.

The department deported 1,086 Myanmar nationals from the Lumut naval base on Tuesday despite a court order halting the move.

Yesterday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court issued an interim order barring the government from deporting any more Myanmar migrants until a decision is arrived on a challenge by two human rights groups against the repatriation.

“The immigration director-general should take full responsibility and resign,” said Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy.

“Until now, there has been no explanation from his side.”

Moving forward, Sevan said, the government should stop all future plans to recruit foreign workers considering the number of undocumented migrants and refugees already in the country.

“If there is need for more (foreign) labour in Malaysia, they (undocumented migrants and refugees) should be legalised and utilised instead,” he said.

He said such a move would also end any corruption involving the hiring of foreign workers.

There are about three million undocumented migrants in the country.

Non-governmental organisations had expressed concerns that minority Chin, Kachin and non-Rohingya communities fleeing conflict and persecution at home were among those to be deported.

Three United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) document holders and 17 minors who had at least one parent still in Malaysia were also believed to be among those sent to Lumut for deportation.

John Quinley, a human rights specialist at Fortify Rights, an independent group focused on Southeast Asia, called on the government to allow UNHCR representatives into detention facilities to carry out protection assessments.

“This is one of the first practical steps authorities should take in ensuring rights for refugees, migrants and others,” he said.

“Malaysia should be a beacon of light for people who need protection and safety. Instead, authorities are sending Myanmar nationals back to a country led by military generals who have committed some of the most egregious crimes.”

The Bar Council had said Tuesday’s deportation may amount to contempt of court, with its Migrants, Refugees and Immigration Affairs Committee co-chairman M Ramachelvam stating that the Immigration Department would have been aware of the stay order.

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