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SUHAKAM calls for end to arrest of undocumented migrants

Graphic: SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Othman Bin Hashim

SUHAKAM said the crackdown was counterproductive at a time when the country is trying to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has voiced its concern over the recent crackdown by authorities on undocumented migrants in Kuala Lumpur.

In a statement, SUHAKAM said the crackdown was counterproductive at a time when the country is trying to contain the spread of COVID-19.

SUHAKAM said the Defence Minister had given his assurance that those coming forward to be tested or treated for COVID-19 would not be arrested, based on their immigration status, while the Health Ministry had said treatment would be free for all.

"This was, by all intents and purposes, the right move and had been praised by many quarters, demonstrating the government's focus to address the urgent public health issue, rather than incriminating those with questionable status in the country," the statement said.

"Despite the government's assurances, persistent fears remain among the vulnerable communities, including migrants, refugees and the stateless, on possible negative repercussions, resulting in the reluctance of many to come forward for testing."

SUHAKAM said the large-scale arrests of undocumented migrants reinforced a negative perception within the communities and reaffirmed their fears.

"As a consequence, one can expect that these vulnerable people will be less willing to come forward for any tests or medical treatment, regardless of the argument or persuasion for them to do so."

SUHAKAM urged the authorities to immediately cease the arrests of undocumented migrants and honour the government's initial promise of locating and treating people, regardless of their immigration status.

"Article 5(1) of the Federal Constitution mandates the government to ensure that no person should be deprived of his life or personal liberty, including that necessary for the sustenance of life, such as food, work and health."

Date: 4 May 2020

Source: SUHAKAM


Image credits

  1. SUHAKAM Chairperson Tan Sri Othman Bin Hashim - APF/James Iliffe