Suaram has been informed that the Malaysian government is planning deport about 17 or more Sri Lankan asylum seekers and refugees on 7-8 January 2010. This group of Sri Lankans was transferred from Machap Umboo Immigration Detention Centre to KLIA Immigration Detention Centre yesterday.
We were also informed that individuals from the group have expressed that they do not want to go back to Sri Lanka, making this a forced repatriation exercise. Asylum seekers and refugees can only be repatriated to their country of origin if it is voluntary.
We demand that the Malaysian Government fully respects the international customary law of non-refoulement, which prohibits the return of people to places where they may face persecution or threats to their life or freedoms. Protection from refoulement is the basic right of asylum seekers and refugee.
We demand that the group of Sri Lankan refugees and asylum seekers be given access to the UNHCR immediately and consequently, upon verification, be released into UNHCR’s official care. All asylum seekers who have been detained by the authorities must be given access to the UNHCR, which will verify their asylum claims.
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We also call upon the Malaysian government to ensure that that all law enforcement agencies (in particular Rela, the police and immigration) respect UNHCR documents and refrain from arresting holders of these documents.