SE Asia urges Malaysia to halt mi­grant crack­down

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

KUALA LUMPUR:

South­east Asian law­mak­ers yes­ter­day urged Malaysia to halt a crack­down on mi­grant work­ers that has seen more than 6,000 for­eign­ers de­tained and sparked alarm among rights groups. Rel­a­tively de­vel­oped Malaysia is a mag­net for mi­grant work­ers from across Asia in sec­tors rang­ing from con­struc­tion to agri­cul­ture, but sev­eral mil­lion are be­lieved to be un­doc­u­mented.

Au­thor­i­ties started round­ing up il­le­gal work­ers af­ter an of­fi­cial pro­gram to reg­is­ter un­doc­u­mented for­eign­ers ended on June 30. The lat­est of­fi­cial fig­ures show 6,038 un­doc­u­mented work­ers have been ar­rested in raids. The two largest groups rep­re­sented were from In­done­sia and Bangladesh, with sub­stan­tial num­bers also from Myan­mar, the Philip­pines and Viet­nam.

MPs from a group that brings to­gether South­east Asian law­mak­ers push­ing for bet­ter hu­man rights vis­ited Malaysia on a fact-find­ing mis­sion, and at the end of the trip made a plea for au­thor­i­ties to end the crack­down. “This in­hu­mane ac­tion must be halted,” Philip­pine Con­gress­woman Emmi De Je­sus told re­porters in Kuala Lumpur at the end of the visit. “Many mi­grants are liv­ing in con­stant fear. Poor treat­ment by law en­force­ment, in­clud­ing in­def­i­nite de­ten­tion in abysmal con­di­tions, are ur­gent con­cerns.”

The group, ASEAN Par­lia­men­tar­i­ans for Hu­man Rights, urged all South­east Asian gov­ern­ments to adopt a bind­ing re­gional treaty on mi­grant work­ers, aimed at pro­tect­ing work­ers and their rights. Lead­ing Malaysian mi­grant rights group Te­na­ganita said it was “up­set to see such large num­bers of un­doc­u­mented work­ers in­clud­ing refugees be­ing hand­cuffed, ar­rested, crim­i­nal­ized, sent to pris­ons and de­ten­tion cen­ters”. The group says that many of the mi­grants are in re­al­ity vic­tims of un­scrupu­lous em­ploy­ers and agents who de­mand huge sums of money to bring them to the coun­try, then leave them sad­dled with huge debts. Mi­grant work­ers typ­i­cally do man­ual jobs spurned by lo­cals. A to­tal of 135 em­ploy­ers have also been de­tained in the crack­down, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial fig­ures. —AFP

PORT DICK­SON: In this file pic­ture taken late July 11, 2017, de­tained for­eign work­ers board a truck fol­low­ing a raid by Malaysian im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties at a con­struc­tion site. —AFP

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