Malaysia + 1 more

Malaysia: OMCT condemns the forced return and arrests of asylum seekers from Aceh province (Indonesia)

Geneva, September 10th, 2003 - The World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) firmly condemns the Malaysian authorities' forcible return of seven asylum seekers, from the Aceh province (Indonesia), to Indonesia. Many civilians have fled from Aceh towards Malaysia seeking refuge since May 19th, 2003; when the Indonesian authorities declared marshal law in the region, which has been in conflict with the central government of Jakarta since 1976.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which has an office in Kuala Lumpur, has received many requests from frightened civilians fleeing Aceh looking for refuge in a safe country. According to Malaysian law, any foreigner stopped without the proper legal documents is considered to be an illegal immigrant and can be sent to his or her country of origin.

The High Commissioner for Refugees and numerous NGOs, including Suaram, have made repeated requests to the Malaysian authorities to establish a moratorium on sending these asylum seekers back to Aceh. Nevertheless, on August 20th, Malaysian authorities arrested 239 people (including 12 women and children) who were seeking protection at the UNCHR office in Kuala Lumpurr.

On September 5th, without ever having seen an UNHCR representative, 7 of the people who had been arrested were deported to Aceh.

OMCT reminds the Malaysian authorities that any person returning to Aceh under these conditions is at risk of serious mistreatment or even execution; as was the case in the 1990's where several hundreds of deportees were tortured and assassinated upon their return to Aceh. OMCT also reminds authorities that while Malaysia is not a party to the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, it is against international law to deport an individual to a country where he or she risks being tortured or executed.

For these reasons OMCT calls upon the Malaysian government to immediately cease its policy of deportation of asylum seekers and establish a moratorium on the forced repatriation of persons who are fleeing the bloody conflict in Aceh.

OMCT Contact: Christine Ferrier
Organisation Mondiale Contre la Torture (OMCT)
World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)
Organización Mundial Contra la Tortura (OMCT)

8 rue du Vieux-Billard
Case postale 21
CH-1211 Geneve 8
Suisse/Switzerland

Tel. : 0041 22 809 49 39
Fax : 0041 22 809 49 29
E-mail : omct@omct.org