Back To Newsroom

APRRN CALLS ON THE GOVERNMENT OF MALAYSIA TO COMPLY WITH INTERNATIONAL LAW AND CEASE DEPORTATION PROCEEDINGS AGAINST UNHCR-RECOGNISED REFUGEE MOHAMMED KHAIRUZZAMAN

15 February 2022

 

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) is gravely concerned by the Government of Malaysia’s arrest, detention, and efforts to deport Mr Mohammed Khairuzzaman, a UNHCR-registered refugee.

 

Mr Khairuzzaman is a former Bangladesh High Commissioner to Malaysia, once identified as a political prisoner by Amnesty International, who has been living in Malaysia as a refugee for over a decade. He was arrested at his residence on 9 February 2022 and is currently detained by the Malaysian authorities. The reason for his arrest has yet to be ascertained; however, the Malaysian Minister of Home Affairs has stated that its actions are a response to a request made by the Government of Bangladesh.

 

Although Malaysia is not a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, the prohibition of refoulement under customary international law forbids a state to return refugees to countries of origin where they are at risk of harm.[1] This principle is further underscored in the UN Convention against Torture, and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which Malaysia has committed to ratify. The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, has assessed Mr Khairuzzaman’s case and has found that he faces a real risk of persecution should he be returned (refouled) to Bangladesh.

 

This is for good reason. In the past decade, human rights advocates have raised concerns about violations of human rights by Bangladesh’s security forces toward activists, government critics, independent media, and civil society. On 11 February 2022, UN human rights experts[2] criticised the pervasive culture of impunity in Bangladesh, with numerous reports of attacks, intimidation, enforced disappearances, and killing of journalists, human rights defenders, and members of civil society.[3]

 

The Government of Malaysia must act in compliance with international law. Recent developments in the country demonstrate the heightened risk of refoulement faced by refugees. In February 2021, despite assurances that no UNHCR-recognised refugees would be deported, the Government of Malaysia returned at least six Myanmar refugees of a larger group of 1,086 Myanmar nationals. This was done in defiance of a Malaysian High Court order, and included women and children at risk. UNHCR is still denied access to immigration detention centres and cannot register putative refugees or assess their claims to asylum.

 

APRRN strongly urges that the Government of Malaysia:

  • Observe international law and the absolute prohibition of refoulement, and cease all proceedings to deport Mr Khairuzamman.
  • Immediately release Mr Khairuzamman from detention.
  • Grant unrestricted access to UNHCR Malaysia to places of detention so that it can conduct status verification and other activities in line with its mandate.
  • Release all detainees in immigration detention with international protection needs.

 

The Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) is a network of over 200 active civil society organisations and individuals from 29 countries committed to advancing the rights of refugees in the Asia Pacific region. APRRN aims to advance the rights of refugees and other people in need of protection through joint advocacy, capacity strengthening, resource sharing and outreach. While APRRN statements are prepared in consultation with members, they do not necessarily reflect the views of all APRRN members.

 

 

Media Contact

Chris Eades, Secretary General, APRRN: sg@aprrn.org

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] See, e.g., UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Advisory Opinion on the Extraterritorial Application of Non-Refoulement Obligations under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, January 2007, available at https://www.unhcr.org/4d9486929.pdf.
[2] The experts: Ms. Irene Khan, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Ms. Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. Clément N. Voule, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association; Mr. Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; and Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The Special Rapporteurs and Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.
[3] UN OHCHR; Bangladesh: “Appalling and pervasive culture of impunity” for killings of journalists – UN experts https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/HRC/Pages/NewsDetail.aspx?NewsID=22794%26LangID=E.

Recommended

DURABLE SOLUTIONS

May 9, 2023

URGENT STATEMENT: Call On Asean Leaders To Prioritise Establishment Of Regional Protection Framework As Myanmar And Rohingya Crisis Worsens

APRRN urgently calls on ASEAN leaders for the establishment of a regional protection framework to guide and support protection-centred and human rights-based responses within and between ASEAN members states, putting refugees safety as priority.

DURABLE SOLUTIONS

April 27, 2023

โดย เครือข่ายสิทธิผู้ลี้ภัยและคนไร้รัฐ และเครือข่ายองค์กรด้านประชากรข้ามชาต ประเทศไทย: ยุติการควบคุมตัวผู้ลี้ภัยชาวอุยกูร์อย่างไม่มีกําหนดโดยทันที และสอบสวนการเสียชีวิต ระหว่างถูกคุมขัง

นายมัตโตห์ตี มัตตูร์ซุน (มูฮัมหมัด ตูร์ซุน) อายุ 40 ปี ผู้ลี้ภัยชาวอุยกูร์ ซึ่งถูกคุมขังไว้ที่สถานกักกันคนเข้าเมืองของไทยตั้งแต่วันที่ 13 มีนาคม 2557 เสียชีวิตเมื่อวันศุกร์ที่ผ่านมา คาดว่าเขาเสียชีวิตด้วยอาการตับวาย มัตโตห์ตี มัตตูร์ซุน เป็นชายชาวอุยกูร์รายที่สองจากกลุ่มผู้ถูกคุมขังชาวอุยกูร์เกือบ 50 คน ที่เสียชีวิตในช่วงสองเดือนที ผ่านมา โดยในเดือนกุมภาพันธ์ 2566 ผู้ลี้ภัยชาวอุยกูร์ชื่อ อาซิซ อับดุลลาห์ เสียชีวิตในห้องกักคนเข้าเมืองสวนพลูซึ่ ผู้ลี้ภัยชาวอุยกูร์ ส่วนใหญ่ถูกควบคุมตัวอยู่ที่น

DURABLE SOLUTIONS

April 27, 2023

The Coalition for the Rights of Refugees and Stateless Persons (CRSP) and Migrant Working Group (MWG) Thailand: Immediately End Indefinite Detention of Uyghur Refugees, Investigate Death in Custody

Mr. Mattohti Mattursun (Muhammad Tursun), 40, a Uyghur refugee who had been in Thai immigration detention since March 13, 2014, passed away on Friday. He died of suspected liver failure. Mattohti Mattursun is the second Uyghur man from a group of almost 50 Uyghur detainees to die in the last two months. In February 2023, Uyghur refugee Aziz Abdullah also died in Suan Phlu immigration detention center (IDC), where most of the Uyghur refugees are being detained.