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SC: Myanmar Journalists in Delhi for Refugee Status Rebut ‘Untraceable Claim’

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Supreme Court Advocates LAW INSIDER

Shivani Thakur

Published on: May 7, 2022 at 18:28 IST

Seven Myanmar Nationals, deemed untraceable by the Centre, told the Supreme Court that they are neither migrants nor Rohingya and their place of residence soon after arriving in Delhi a year ago to demand protection against deportation. The information was given to the Local Police from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).

The Court said that that two among them are journalists working with Mizzima news channel in Myanmar and the remaining four are the wife and three minor children of one of the journalists who took refuge in India.

The Supreme Court stayed the High Court Order and directed their lawyer and rights activist Nandita Haksar to take the responsibility of producing the persons before the authority concerned.

Lawyer Nandita Haksar filed an Affidavit said that, “These Journalists are refugees seeking protection from persecution in their Country and are not migrants or Rohigyas…”

“One of the journalists, namely Sithu Aung was given Gratis Visa by Government of India, while another journalist namely Pau Khan Thawn and his family has sought and has been granted protection from United Nations High Commission for Refugees on earlier occasions and was recognized as a refugee by United Nations High Commission for Refugees and their certificate was renewed from time to time.”

After the High Court Order, Haksar’s Affidavit said, they were also granted protection by United Nations High Commission for Refugees which issued them identity cards.

Stating that it was through news reports that the Petitioner came to know about the Apex Court’s Order, Haksar, said in the Affidavit: “She (Haksar) is being dragged into the present matter without verifying true facts.”

The Bench decided to take up the hearing on Monday.

The Supreme Court heared the appeal filed by Centre against the High Court and submitted: “What fundamental rights will apply for a person who comes in and gets out of the country is essentially an executive function.”

“Here these persons who are enjoying High Court’s protection are now untraceable. Since the undertaking was given by the petitioner, she should tell us where they are now.”

The High Court said: “This Court finds it just and proper to extend protection under Article 21 of the Constitution to these seven Myanmarese persons and grant them safe passage to New Delhi to enable them to avail suitable protection from the United Nations High Commission for Refugees”.