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Human Rights Groups to challenge Myanmar Deportation: Malaysia Court

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Kashish Jain

A Malaysian Court granted permission to an International Human Rights group to challenge the recent deportation of Myanmar nationals. This is a major step in the country as there the law bars immigration decisions from being challenged in the Courts of law.

The Malaysian government deported 1,086 people within a month. It claimed that these people were illegal immigrants on three Myanmar navy ships. This step of the Government came hours after an order that banned the group’s removal, pending a legal bid by Amnesty International and Asylum Access to halt the plan amid fears that there were asylum seekers and children present among the group that was deported. 

This ruling by the Kuala Lumpur High Court comes as a means of paving the way for a full hearing on the deportations and extends a stray barring the removal of 114 more Myanmar Nationals until the end of the Judicial review. 

New Sin Yew, a lawyer for the groups told Reuters that this progression of the legal case is unlikely to bring back those who have been already deported but could prove to be a hurdle against future removals. 

He said:

“It’s a very important decision because it recognizes the function of non-government organizations like Asylum Access and Amnesty International and their standing in bringing judicial review to hold the authorities accountable,”

The European Union and the United States have expressed their concerns over the deportations and have gone ahead despite the interim court order. Malaysian lawmakers fear that the move could amount to contempt of court. 

Hui Ying Tham, Asylum Access Malaysian director informed of the indecision of the human rights groups about whether to seek action against the Government for contempt of court. These groups have asked authorities for more details on the ones who have been deported. 

She also made it a point to state in a virtual news conference that the deportations that happened were conducted under very opaque circumstances. 

The Malaysian Immigration Department has said that the returned people did not include the Rohingyas. However, concerns surface as the U.N. refugee agency has been denied access to the detained and thus their status remains unverified. In their court filing, the Human Rights groups have stated that three U.N. registered people and 17 minors with one parent in Malaysia were on the deportee list. Other refugee groups claim that at least 9 asylum seekers and two unaccompanied children were among those already deported. Whether or not those individuals were sent back is unclear.  This country is home to more than 154,000 asylum seekers from Myanmar, which was where the military had seized power last month.