(28/07(2017). (Report from International Labour Organization (ILO)). Labour migration has been an important factor supporting the growth and development of the South-East Asian region, filling labour shortages in countries of destination and providing much needed employment opportunities for workers in countries of origin. However, in spite of the vital role women and men migrant workers play in increasing the region’s labour market efficiency, they are often subjected to abuses during recruitment and employment and are unable to make use of the social protection benefits to which they are entitled.
A year and a half ago, thousands of desperate Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants and asylum-seekers were abandoned at sea, shocking and horrifying many around the world. But more than a year later, little has changed. Governments and international agencies have fulfilled few promises to better protect Rohingya who, facing persecution in Myanmar, have seen flight as their only survival option. Rohingya asylum-seekers in Malaysia and Thailand, including many women and children who survived the May 2015 boat crisis, continue to face the threat of detention and restricted access to the most basic human rights, including to livelihoods, healthcare, and education. As tensions flare once again within Myanmar, the possibility of another boat crisis remains real, but whether international reaction would be different remains unclear. It is time for regional governments and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) to act.
The report, “Deepening the Culture of Fear: The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in Malaysia,” documents the government’s recent use of overbroad and vaguely worded laws to criminalize peaceful speech and assembly. Since Human Rights Watch’s October 2015 report, “Creating a Culture of Fear,” the Malaysian government has done little to bring these laws and practices in line with international legal standards. Instead, the government has suggested it will strengthen statutes limiting speech on social media and other rights-offending laws.
Freedom of expression is under attack in Malaysia. Civil society activists, academics, opposition politicians, journalists, social media users and even cartoonists have been targeted by repressive laws used to stifle dissent. This campaign digest explores the 1948 Sedition Act and its use increasingly against individuals simply expressing political, religious and other views – is leading many people to exercise self-censorship, with a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country.
It’s been six months since as many as 1,000 Rohingya fleeing from Myanmar died in the Andaman Sea. And still, neighboring nations remain resistant to recognizing the Rohingya people’s rights as refugees. Even after neighboring governments met earlier this year and agreed to protect the Rohingya at sea, no nation has taken a leadership role in permitting them to disembark from boats safely and legally. The absence of a regional plan leaves the Rohingya vulnerable to the challenges of a perilous sea voyage, and further strands those Rohingya who have lived in Malaysia and other regional nations for up to three generations without legal rights or protection.
This 141-page report documents the government’s use and abuse of a range of broad and vaguely worded laws to criminalize peaceful expression, including debates on matters of public interest. The report also spotlights a disturbing trend of abuse of the legal process, including late night arrests and unjustifiable remands, and a pattern of selective prosecution.
The 102-page report examines cases of alleged police abuse in Malaysia since 2009, drawing on first-hand interviews and complaints by victims and their families. Human Rights Watch found that investigations into police abuse are conducted primarily by the police themselves, lack transparency, and officers implicated in abuses are almost never prosecuted.