A Malaysian court ruled on Wednesday to set aside the penalty of three strokes of the cane against 27 Rohingya men who have been convicted under the country’s Immigration Act.
They have also been sentenced to seven months of prison for entering the country illegally.
Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International’s Malaysia Researcher said that the “decision reverses a cruel and inhumane sentence that should never have been handed down in the first place. “
She said that that while it comes as welcome news, all 27 men remain jailed along with dozens of other Rohingya refugees, including women and children, simply for attempting to escape terrible persecution in Myanmar.
“The Malaysian government must release all jailed Rohingya refugees. They have been unlawfully singled out and convicted for alleged ‘immigration offences’, which are contrary to international law,” Chhoa-Howard said.
The hundreds of other Rohingya people held in detention centres in Malaysia must also be freed and released into the care of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Chhoa-Howard added.
“Even before the pandemic, detention solely for immigration purposes was only allowable in the most exceptional of circumstances. In the present global public health crisis, migration-related detention is not justifiable,” Chhoa-Howard ended.
The Rohingya refugees landed on Malaysian shores in April 2020 as the country became a favourite destination while escaping persecution in their native Myanmar.
The High Court noted that the Rohingya men are refugees in need of international protection, owing to the situation in Rakhine State, Myanmar which they fled. The High Court also stated that they cannot be returned to Myanmar, in line with the international principle of non-refoulement. (Source: Amnesty Intl.)