SUHAKAM concerned about negative portrayals of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers
Graphic: Migrant workers in Malaysia
Concerns that recent statements unfairly portray migrants and asylum seekers as a threat to Malaysia's safety and security.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) is concerned with recent statements, portraying migrants, undocumented or irregular migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers as a threat to the safety and security of the country and posing a risk to the health of Malaysians.
Strong-armed enforcement upon these communities have once again caused a stir and calls have grown for the Malaysian Government to rethink its approach to the situation, to avoid further infringements upon human rights principles or an aggravation to the current public health crises.
Since Malaysia is not a state party to the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its Optional Protocol of 1967, its national laws do not differentiate between refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented migrants. Often, they are mistakenly considered as a matter of national security concern.
SUHAKAM wishes to reiterate that clear differentiation should be made between migrants (including those undocumented) and refugees/asylum seekers. Whilst migrant workers move to another country temporarily for economic reasons, refugees and asylum seekers are those who are unable or unwilling to return to their country of origin owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, member of a particular social group, or political opinion.
The lack of legal status is a prominent factor resulting in undocumented migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers being exposed to exploitation and prone to being arrested and detained. SUHAKAM reminds the Government of its commitment to Article 56 of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, to closely cooperate to resolve the cases of migrant workers who, frequently become undocumented due to no fault of their own.
The government should commit to strictly observing the international principle of non-refoulement of refugees and asylum seekers and undertake to protect and provide the migrant and refugee community with necessary assistance to be able to live their lives in dignity with the ability to seek work and have access to education, healthcare and shelter whilst in the country.
Date: 14 June 2021
- Migrant workers in Malaysia - UN Women | Flickr CC https://bit.ly/3qyM5mi