Malaysia court grants challenges to Myanmar deportations
A Malaysian court on Tuesday granted international human rights groups permission to challenge the recent deportation of Myanmar nationals, a major step in a country where the law bars immigration decisions from being questioned in court.
Olivia Chan reports.
A Malaysian court is allowing two international human rights groups to mount legal challenges over the deportation of a thousand Myanmar nationals last month, said at the time to be illegal immigrants.
The decision is unlikely to bring back those who had been deported to Myanmar, which is struggling with the fallout of last month's military coup.
But the court's move does extend a stay barring the removal of another 114 Myanmar nationals until the end of the judicial review.
Hui Ying Tham is the Director for Asylum Access Malaysia: "Suffice to say in this particular case that the court has acknowledged the critical role that NGOs play in protecting the rights of those most marginalized by ensuring accountability and transparency of the Malaysian government." In February, the Malaysian government repatriated the deportees on three Myanmar navy ships, hours after an interim court order to ban the removal.
The immigration department has said the returned group did not include Rohingya refugees or asylum seekers, but the U.N.
Refugee agency has voiced concern as it has been denied access to detainees and verify their status.
Several Malaysian lawmakers have said the government's move could amount to contempt of court.
Malaysia is already home to more than 154,000 asylum-seekers from Myanmar.