In Malaysia, a group of Rohingya refugees fresh off a boat has been captured by Malaysian authorities. They were subsequently sentenced to flogging, and some were detained after prison sentences. Among these refugees were women, and some international organizations were quick to denounce these sentences that violate human rights.
Cruel sentencing for refugees: a common situation in Malaysia
27 men from the Rohingya ethnic group were arrested and sentenced to be flogged with a cane for “immigration offenses” in Malaysia. They were also sentenced to seven months in prison, and to pay heavy fines in June after fleeing to the country with hundreds of others in April. Nine women were also sentenced to seven months in prison and 14 children were charged with staying in Malaysia without a valid work permit.
This sentence was passed under Malaysia’s immigration law which says anyone who enters the country illegally can face a fine of 10,000 ringgits (2,000 euros), up to five years. imprisonment and six blows from the cane. Worse than the countries refugees have sought to flee, Malaysian detention centers pose an even greater threat to these individuals. In addition to violence against inmates, the total lack of food and the most basic amenities, prisons are also plagued by disease, including Covid-19.
” It was a horrible situation, the treatment they give us. They took us to the prison, it was small, but with so many people, and so many people were sick… it was like we were animals “, Testified a Yemeni refugee to The Guardian. Note that such events going against human rights are no longer a novelty in Malaysia. Lately, the country has become increasingly hostile towards refugees, and while some boats have been refused entry into the country, refugees allowed to enter the country have been thrown into jail.
A conviction finally overturned, but a situation still unresolved
Faced with this disastrous situation, human rights protection organizations – including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – were quick to react, and urged the Malaysian authorities to react to these cruel and inhuman acts. ” These shocking punishments, including the caning, must be reversed and refugees must be released immediately “, said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, researcher at Amnesty International on Malaysia, in a press release. Faced with international pressure, the Malaysian authorities finally gave in and a judge overturned the convictions of the 27 Rohingya refugees.
Alor Setar High Court in Kedah state overturned flogging sentence, officially said Collin andrew, according to a report from New York Times. Indeed, the court ruled the caning as an inhuman punishment, especially since the convicted refugees had no history of crime or violence. ” Today’s ruling is laudable, as it demonstrates the promotion and protection of human rights by the High Court », Rejoiced Me Andrew. Regardless, the situation is far from resolved for refugees in Malaysia, as hate speech against such people and the inhumane laws that punish them still exist.