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Amnesty International: Allowing Rohingya refugees to work a positive step

February 22, 2017

PETALING JAYA: A pilot programme to allow Rohingya refugees in Malaysia to work is a positive step taken by the Government with regards to human rights, says Amnesty International Malaysia.

Its executive director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu said about 300 Rohingya would be allowed to work legally in the country under the scheme.

"However, the Malaysian Government and authorities should take one step further to recognise refugees in the domestic legislation and policies, so that Rohingya refugees would be able to be accorded basic rights like the right to work and access to healthcare," she said when unveiling the Amnesty International Report 2016/17 on Wednesday morning.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi had said that the Government would provide training in semi-skilled areas for Rohingya who are United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cardholders.

They could later apply for Temporary Employment Passes which will then enable them to obtain employment.

As of October last year, there were about 150,000 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia.

More than 135,000 of them are from Myanmar, comprising 54,856 Rohingya, 41,420 Chins, 10,928 Myanmar Muslims, 5,221 Rakhines and Arakanese, and other ethnic groups.

Meanwhile, the Amnesty International Report listed the crackdown on freedom of expression and lack of police accountability among six major areas of concern in Malaysia.

Attacks against activists Fahmi Reza and Haris Ibrahim, travel ban on cartoonist Zunar, the 11-day solidarity confinement of Bersih 5.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah, and the death of N. Dharmendran in police custody were among the human rights cases highlighted.

Shamini also pointed out that Malaysia was among the 32 UN member states that have yet to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture.

The National Security Council Act, which came into effect in August, was a highly suppressive law that infringes on basic human rights, she added.

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