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Let UNHCR meet with 1,200 Myanmar deportees, rights groups urge after court’s temporary stay order

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 — The Malaysian government should allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to visit and check on the 1,200 people that Malaysia planned on deporting to Myanmar, rights group said, following a local court order to pause the deportation plans for one day.

In a joint statement by Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia, Amnesty International Malaysia’s executive director Katrina Jorene Maliamauv welcomed the High Court’s decision to temporarily stay the Malaysian government’s planned deportation of the 1,200 individuals to Myanmar, pending the hearing of a judicial review in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.

She said that the 1,200 individuals include some holders of valid UNHCR documents, asylum seekers and children separated from their parents who are still in Malaysia.

“In light of the court ruling, the government must respect the court order and ensure that not

one of the 1,200 individuals is deported today.

“Instead, it must grant access to UNHCR to all 1,200 individuals and all immigration detention centres in general, which the government has denied since August 2019.

“This would enable the UN agency to verify asylum claims and identify refugees already registered,” she said in the statement.

The Malaysian government had initially planned to deport the 1,200 individuals via three navy ships sent by the Myanmar military this afternoon.

Even with the High Court’s one-day stay to suspend the deportation of the 1,200 individuals ahead of the judicial review hearing tomorrow at 10am, Katrina said that this does not mean the 1,200 are safe from being deported and said they still face life-threatening risks.

“We urge the government to reconsider its plans to send this group of vulnerable people back to Myanmar, where human rights violations are currently dangerously high,” she said.

On Monday, Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia had jointly filed for judicial review, following the UNHCR’s confirmation that at least six persons registered with the UN agency were among those scheduled to be deported.

The judicial review bid by Amnesty International Malaysia and Asylum Access Malaysia are aimed at obtaining a court order to prevent the deportation, and includes the names and details of three UNHCR document holders and 17 minors who had at least one parent still in Malaysia.

News wire Reuters cited refugee groups as saying that those who were to be deported by the Malaysian government include asylum seekers from the minority Chin, Kachin and non-Rohingya Muslim communities fleeing conflict and persecution in Myanmar, while also stating Malaysia as saying it would not be deporting UNHCR-registered refugees or Rohingya Muslims.

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