The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that there has to be laws and a proper framework in place to deal with refugees who land on Malaysian shores or shores in the region.
Posted on 6 June 2015 – 05:51pm
Last updated on 6 June 2015 – 06:33pm
PETALING JAYA: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said today that there has to be laws and a proper framework in place to deal with refugees who land on Malaysian shores or shores in the region.
UNHCR’s representative in Malaysia Richard Towle said that the only way to deal with the refugees that flock from their countries to other countries is to foster regional and international cooperation.
“We think that the only way to deal with refugees these days is with regional and international cooperation. Events over the last two weeks have shown that no nation is able to deal with this issue alone and that is why cooperation is essential,” he said.
He also said that it is not essential to be a signatory on the UN Convention on Refugees as long as a nation deals with refugees in a humane way and there is cooperation with neighbouring countries.
“The refugee convention is a good signal of international cooperation but it is not essential, what is important is there are the right laws and frameworks put in place to deal with these issues,” he said.
Towle informed that there are no current laws to deal with such a situation should it happen again and neighbouring countries such as Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia need to work together to set up a framework.
“We think the government would be able to deal with the refugees easily if there were laws and legal frameworks. It will be easier to deal with it if more refugees come in the future because we have guidelines in place,” he said while speaking to the media at the UNHCR’s World Refugees day event today.
Towle also informed that they have not had access from the government to go to the detention centre in Belatik, Kedah to see the refugees who turned up on Malaysian shores some two weeks ago.
“We have not been given access to the detention centre. We have been offering our services to the government but for the time being we have not been given access,” he said.
Towle also added that the UNHCR has a lot to offer in terms of expertise in dealing with these refugees and helping them.
“We would like to be working more closely with the government, we have the expertise and we have been doing this for a long time, we are ready if they would like our help,” he said.
Also at the event was Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam, who together with Towle and the UNHCR, condemn human trafficking.
In his keynote address at the event, Hasmy said that Suhakam will remind the government of its commitment relating to trafficking of persons.
“The commission reminds the government of its commitment relating to trafficking during Malaysia’s second Universal Periodic review. We reiterate that the human rights of trafficked persons shall be at the centre of all efforts to prevent and combat trafficking and to protect and provide redress to victims,” said Hasmy.