Malaysian socialists: No to Australia's outsourcing of the violation of refugee rights to Malaysia

May 12, 2011 -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) denounces the recent agreement made between the governments of Malaysia and Australia, whereby Australia will send 800 asylum seekers who have been detained by Australian authorities to Malaysia in exchange for 4000 refugees currently in Malaysia.

The arrangement for this “Malaysian solution” to asylum seekers attempting to arrive in Australia clearly shows that the Australian government is washing its hands off its responsibility to protect refugees and is “off-shoring” or “outsourcing” the violation of refugees' rights to Malaysia, a country with no proper legal instruments to protect the rights of refugees.

Both the governments of Malaysia and Australia have not taken the plight of refugees and asylum seekers seriously, and only treat them like tradeable commodities.

Malaysia is not party to the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and it does not have laws that recognise asylum seekers or refugees and provide protection to them. Instead, asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia face a high risk of being detained by the notorious authorities as “illegal immigrants” and subject to human rights violations. There is no protection and assistance from the Malaysian government for housing, health care, jobs and education for asylum seekers and refugees residing in Malaysia.

Whereas, Australia -- which is party to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention should have taken the responsibility to accept asylum seekers and refugees in order to provide them with protection and help, not sending them to a country that does not even recognize the concept of asylum seekers or refugees in its laws.

The PSM demands:

  • The governments of Malaysia and Australia must stop their exchange of asylum seekers and refugees;
  • The Australian government must accept all asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat and not send them to other countries which are not parties to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention;
  • Malaysia must sign and ratify the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1976 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, and protect the rights of all asylum seekers and refugees in Malaysia.

Released by Choo Chon Kai, international bureau, Socialist Party of Malaysia/Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)