Human Rights Round-Up 20 (07/08/2020)

1. AL JAZEERA, ASTRO, UNIFI TV RAIDED OVER MIGRANT DOCUMENTARY

The police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) have raided Al Jazeera and seized two computers. Astro and Unifi TV were also raided; it is believed the two had broadcast Al Jazeera’s documentary.

On 3 July 2020, Al Jazeera aired Locked Up In Malaysia’s Lockdown, which focused on the plight of undocumented migrants detained during raids in areas under tight coronavirus lockdowns. It sparked an online backlash, while the Malaysian government decried the report as inaccurate, misleading and unfair.Amnesty International Malaysia (AIM) commented, “The government’s crackdown on migrants and refugees, as well as those who speak up in their defense, is clearly meant to silence and intimidate and should be condemned.

2. BANGLADESHI IN AL JAZEERA DOCUMENTARY TO BE DEPORTED ON MERDEKA DAY

Md Rayhan Kabir, the Bangladeshi national who was arrested on 24 July 2020 after appearing on an Al Jazeera documentary, will be deported back to his home country on Merdeka Day, pending the completion of the Attorney General’s review into the police’s investigation papers.

The Director-General of the Immigration Department stated that Mr Kabir’s visitor pass has been terminated and that he will be permanently blacklisted from entering Malaysia. This follows from the recent revocation of Mr Kabir’s work permit.Mr Kabir had appeared in the Al Jazeera documentary, Locked Up in Malaysia’s Lockdown, where he accused the authorities of racism against undocumented migrants. Currently, the police are investigating Al Jazeera under the Sedition Act 1948 and other statutory provisions.

3. SUHAKAM CALLS FOR RELEASE OF FINDINGS ON WANG KELIAN TRAGEDY

On World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30, SUHAKAM urged the government to release the report and findings of the Royal Commission Inquiry (RCI) into the Wang Kelian tragedy, which involved human trafficking syndicates and subsequent obstruction of justice by enforcement authorities.

SUHAKAM reminded all that despite its illegality worldwide, human trafficking remains rampant because it is a lucrative trade; and pointed out Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 is the specific legislation to address human trafficking in Malaysia. 

SUHAKAM urged the government to focus on:

i. Identifying weaknesses (thereby strengthening) the Malaysian border enforcement infrastructure, 

ii. Intensifying efforts to prosecute traffickers and those abetting; 

iii. Providing all forms of necessary assistance including legal aid, humanitarian supplies, and access to basic services to victims.

4. JAKIM CONDEMNED FOR LODGING POLICE REPORT OVER LGBTQ CONVERSION THERAPY TWEETS 

Local advocacy groups have condemned the Malaysian Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM) for reporting a local minority rights activist to the police over her tweets about its methods to “heal” the LGBTQ community.

The groups said JAKIM’s knee-jerk reaction to lodge a police report is a disproportionate response. “It sends a message… that we are not allowed to question governmental policies and programmes and aims to limit our freedom of expression and our right to information.”
The groups also said that the tweets were accurate and backed by citations accessible online that included published research and Parliament’s Hansard. Moreover, the tweet never implied participants of such programmes were forced attendees, albeit “we do… need a deeper understanding of what is meant by ‘voluntary participation’.

5. CITIZENSHIP CASE REQUIRES EVIDENCE ON BIOLOGICAL PARENTS’ NATIONALITY

In a High Court case, lawyer Raymond Mah argued that those born in Malaysia but had not become citizens of any other country within a year of their birth would be a Malaysian citizen under s.1(e) and s.2(3) of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule

Mah further argued that his client should not bear the burden to  approach 100 other countries to verify her nationality thereby proving her biological parents’ identity. He further argued that s.1(e) only involves jus soli (the right to citizenship by place of birth), not jus sanguini (right to citizenship by the parents’ nationality).


However, the opposing counsel argued s.1(e) requires proof for both jus soli and jus sanguini, hence the need to prove parents and lineage.

6. THREE FAMILY MEMBERS DETAINED FOR SUSPICION OF ABUSING INDONESIAN MAID

The police have detained three family members suspected of abusing their Indonesian maid.

“The victim was reportedly not paid her wages during the period she worked for her employer besides the maid was locked up in the house and forced to work every day. Her earlobes were also almost torn,” Perak Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief SAC Anuar Othman said.

He also said the suspects were remanded until Thursday and the maid was sent to a shelter pending further investigation.

The case is being investigated under s. 12 Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ATIPSOM).

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

7. STUDENTS ARRESTED UNDER HONG KONG SECURITY LAW

In the first police operation to enforce Hong Kong’s new national security law, four students in Hong Kong, aged between 16 and 21, have been arrested on suspicion of “inciting secession”.

The students were former members of or had links to Studentlocalism, a pro-independence youth group. It was disbanded in June before the security law came into force.

Prominent rights activist Joshua Wong said the former leader of the group, Mr Chung, had been followed by police for several days. Joshua also said Mr Chung had been arrested for writing a Facebook post on “China’s nationalism” and alleged that the detainees’ phones had been hacked shortly after their arrest

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